ORLANDO, Fla. — The UCF Athletics Association submitted a budget to the university based on the expectation it would be able to play football at some point during the 2020-21 academic year with fans in attendance.
The chief financial officer who outlined the budget during a UCF board of trustees meeting Thursday noted it was an “optimistic viewpoint.”
With the fan-related revenue factored in, UCF Athletics Association projected having $6,448,114 in year-end cash at the end of the 2021 fiscal year.
The athletic department summary notes it includes the use of a $5 million line of credit to manage cash flow during certain times of year, and the tally also includes cash the university holds in reserve for the athletic department and other direct-support organizations.
UCF’s athletic budget does reflect some adverse impact from the coronavirus pandemic. From March through July 2020, which UCF’s trustees refer to as the third quarter, the athletics association listed a net loss of $2,230,538.
This could include loss of NCAA Tournament revenue and expenses incurred before receiving the Knights’ annual American Athletic Conference member payment.
The UCF athletics budget will take a hit during the 2020-21 academic year from the loss of student fees as the university projects a dip in student enrollment due to the pandemic.
But the biggest factor for UCF, along with many other Football Bowl Subdivision schools, is whether football can be played safely with fans in attendance.
UCF is proposing the state allow it to resume in-person classes with a heavy emphasis on the use of masks, social distancing and a variety of other safety measures.
It’s unclear how UCF could take comparable precautions in crowded Spectrum Stadium.
During an ESPN Orlando radio interview Wednesday afternoon, athletics director Danny White said if fans can’t attend UCF football games, the Knights would be looking at a “$30 million problem.”
White’s peers around the state have been equally concerned about the financial impact of playing football games without fans.
“We are planning to develop several different budget scenarios for next year. I don’t think any of them will be pretty,” FSU athletics director David Coburn said during a board of trustees teleconference in April.
“One of them will be a scenario without football and I would just say God help us if that is the scenario.”
UF athletics director Scott Stricklin told the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi in March losing football fan revenue would be crushing.
“For right now, it’s all manageable,” Stricklin said. “But the question your mind goes to really quickly is if this lasts into another school year. From a financial standpoint, if we’re not playing football games in the fall, it will shake the foundation of college athletics. As everyone knows, football pays for the enterprise to go forward.”
White agreed in an interview with the Sentinel.
“Financially, it would be devastating,” he said. “… I don’t know what would happen or how it would play out if we didn’t play football this fall.”
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):