Student support, in dollars and cents
But the school still has to pay for full-tuition scholarships, travel, stadium upkeep and coaches’ salaries. As a result, Tribe football never generated enough revenue to cover its expenses during the 13 years between 1999 and 2011.
Instead, the school relies on student fees to pay for football, basketball and the rest of its athletic programs.
William and Mary will charge each student a $1,485 athletic fee this year. Last year, with the same student fee, W&M collected about $10 million, or about 45 percent of its athletic department revenue. (UVA’s athletic fee was $657 last year, and Virginia Tech charged a statewide low of $260.)
William and Mary aims for equal amounts of generated revenue and student fees.
“Our goal is 50 to 51 percent [in student fees],” said Dan Wakely, assistant athletic director for business affairs. “Usually it ends up being a little higher. Usually it ends up somewhere between 50 and 55 percent.”
William and Mary’s 2010-11 numbers leaned toward generated revenue because of a $2.8 million one-time alumni donation that paid to build a new stadium to house both soccer and lacrosse. In the previous four years, William and Mary averaged $3.1 million in total athletic contributions, and student fees made up 50.5 percent of total revenue.
The funding model hasn’t caused any trouble at William and Mary, Wakely said.
“The school has decided that this is the kind of athletic department they want us to have, and that’s what it takes to run it,” Wakely said. “No one has ever come to me and said ‘we need to reduce the student fee.’”
But William and Mary, with its comparatively small budget, isn’t looking to throw millions more into athletic facilities any time soon.
“I think we’re staying where we are for now,” Wakely said. But “two years before [the soccer field] got built, we probably didn’t expect that either.”
Looking for a payday
With lower expenses and student fees making up the bulk of the budget, William and Mary is under less pressure to win to keep money coming into the program.
For Virginia Tech, riding its national reputation as a football powerhouse, and UVA, which has struggled in the past five years, on-field success is much more important.
Last year brought signs of improvement for UVA football and basketball. Although ticket revenue figures are not yet available, Virginia basketball drew almost 400 more fans per game last season than in the previous season.
The football team also saw a 2,481-person increase in average attendance. VanDerbeek said 2012 UVA football season ticket sales have already exceeded last year’s mark.
The Cavaliers have started to look better on the field, too. Mike London’s bunch went 8-4 in the regular season and earned the first Virginia bowl bid since 2008.
UVA also received a $1.1 million check from the ACC for their trip to the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
But a bowl appearance is no guarantee of a payday. VanDerbeek said the school spent more than $800,000 to transport the team, band and other support staff to Atlanta for the game. School records also show that Mike London and his coaching staff made $277,377 in bonuses for the bowl appearance.
As it turns out, losing is expensive, but winning can be, too.