Cincinnati Athletic Department Is In The Black

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

And I am not talking about the color scheme. But the UC athletic department turned a profit for the 2012-13 fiscal year (June 2012 to June 2013. This from the USA Today's annual deep dive into the finances of college sports.

What's interesting about the Bearcats sudden ascension to profitability is that the bulk of the increase came from rights and licensing fees which shot up from from a little over 13 million in 2012-13 to over 18 million dollars this past year. There is no obvious cause for the bump that you can say is responsible for that increase. Certainly not to the extent that the back to back BCS runs had an obvious impact in doubling revenue from licensing from the 2007-08 fiscal year to the 2008-09. On the fields of play in 12-13 the Bearcats had good years, but not great ones so it has to be more to the matter than competitive success. I don't have any theories postulated just yet, but give it a minute. It could just be that the Bearcats are a hot brand at the moment. Whatever the reason I think I speak for all of us when I say that I will take it.

That massive increase in licensing revenue really offset slight declines in ticket sales (down 8.4 percent), and contributions (down 16 percent). Combining that with the money received from renting out facilities, and money received from Virginia Tech buying out the Bearcats home game, and then the Butch Jones buyout and you have profitability.

What's most interesting to me about this data won't become apparent for another couple of years. This year will be the one to compare the Bearcats standard of living pre Nippert Renovation and post Nippert Renovation. The project was announced in December of 2012, fundraising began immediately but the money actually coming was far off. In June of 2013, just past the close of fiscal year 2012-13* the Bearcats announced that the project was live and that they had sold of the priciest of the high end seating options. This year the tapp from donor commitments was officially turned on and began to flow.

*the one in the USA Today report

That revenue stream will have a huge and hugely positive effect once the data from the year that just ended is released next June.  But next year is also an obviously transitional one. Just how much the renovation of Nippert changes the financial model for the athletic department won't be readily discernable for a couple of years. But when that data becomes public the data that USA Today just released will be the reference point.

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