No college athletic department had higher expenses than Ohio State for the 2019 fiscal year according to USA TODAY's NCAA finances database, which was updated on Thursday.
Per the database, Ohio State had $220,572,956 in athletics expenses for the 2019 fiscal year, over $15 million more than any other university.
Those expenses were up over $16 million from Ohio State's expenses for the 2018 fiscal year ($203,809,715). Nearly $79 million of Ohio State's 2019 expenses went to coaching/staff salaries, while facilities/overhead expenses jumped to over $54 million from less than $47 million one year earlier. Those expenses increased in part because of the construction of the Covelli Center, Jennings Wrestling Facility and Schumaker Complex, which all opened during the 2018-19 academic year, as well as the university's investigation into Zach Smith and Urban Meyer in the summer of 2018.
Ohio State's revenues of $210,548,239 for the 2019 fiscal year, meanwhile, ranked third among all college athletic departments behind Texas ($223,879,781) and Texas A&M ($212,748,002). More than $93 million of that revenue came from rights and licensing fees, an increase of more than $10 million from 2018, but ticket sales dropped nearly $10 million to $59,847,907. Ohio State's athletic revenues still increased by nearly $5 million from 2018 to 2019, but not enough to avoid a deficit.
That said, athletic director Gene Smith told the Columbus Dispatch in February that Ohio State's actual 2019 budget deficit sat at only $624,359, attributing the difference between the numbers reported to the NCAA and used in USA TODAY's database to $10.4 million in contributions held from previous fundraising efforts.
“There’s no way I would be sitting here with 36 sports if we had a $10 million deficit,” Smith said then. “It just wouldn’t happen. I’d be dropping sports, and ticket prices would go up.”
Ohio State was one of six Big Ten schools that ranked in the top 19 in both revenues and expenses for their athletic departments for the 2019 fiscal year (which ran from July 2018-June 2019), along with Michigan (4th in revenues, 3rd in expenses), Penn State (6th/6th), Wisconsin (11th/8th), Iowa (14th/12th) and Michigan State (18th/19th).
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down college sports in March, athletic department revenues for all universities are expected to decrease for the 2020 fiscal year, and will fall even further for the 2021 fiscal year if college football seasons are canceled or played without fans this fall.
Ohio State is currently working off a two-month budget to begin the 2021 fiscal year, and Smith said last week that the athletic department has “already made some adjustments” to its budget. He said Ohio State does not have any current plans to cut sports or implement pay cuts for coaches, but said final decisions about how to balance the budget have not been made as the athletic department still has “a lot of work to do.”