Mizzou Athletics rebuilds revenue base under the supervision of Desireé Reed-Francois

COLUMBIA, Mo. — For the first time in six years, the University of Missouri’s athletics department reported a budget surplus, but athletics director Desireé Reed-Francois is not hosting a victory parade.

In its first fiscal year as Mizzou Athletics, the division generated record revenue of more than $141 million in fiscal 2022. MU Athletics also spent a record amount — more than $125 million — but the $15 million surplus marks a stark contrast to five consecutive years of operating in deficit under previous leadership.

“We make investments for competitive success,” Reed-Francois told Post-Dispatch. “Honestly, we need to be aggressive about increasing revenue. We’re going to be great stewards of our resources, but we need to deliver excellence around our programs – and part of that is investment. So we need to keep increasing our sales.”

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Mizzou’s financial data is from the school’s annual submission to the NCAA Membership Financial Reporting System, obtained through an Open Records request.

Mizzou’s athletics earnings for fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) included Eli Drinkwitz’s second year as soccer coach, a 6-7 season, and Cuonzo Martin’s final year as men’s basketball coach. Athletics revenue increased from $110,458,144 in fiscal 2021 to $141,157,028 last year.

One factor has been a dramatic increase in ticket sales as MU’s home venues reopened to full capacity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With Memorial Stadium, Mizzou Arena, and other on-campus facilities fully open, ticket sales increased from $3,574,357 in 2021 to $13,929,479 in 2022—but still fell short of the $16,124,731 total before the pandemic in fiscal 2020.

Mizzou will see an even bigger increase in ticketing revenue in next year’s report as ticket sales for the MU’s two top grossing sports – soccer, men’s basketball – have increased dramatically in the current academic year. Mizzou’s average attendance at football matches increased by 16% to 54,525 in 2022. Under freshman coach Dennis Gates, men’s basketball has sold out five home games this season, with average attendance up 69% year over year to 11,151 fans per game. Total attendance at home has seen MU rise to 17th in Division I from 75th last year.

“We rebuilt our ticket sales team and we’ve seen some good early returns,” Reed-Francois said. “In fiscal year 2023, we led the Southeastern Conference in attendance growth. We have placed great emphasis on getting students to play. So we hired a director for student engagement. We’ve seen a 38% growth in student visits. We try to be innovative.”

Mizzou’s earnings and expenses have historically ranked near the bottom of the SEC, but in the top 30 to 40 programs nationally.

Donor contributions also increased under Reed-Francois’ supervision from $24,589,042 to $29,512,444, as did revenue from athletics royalties, licensing and advertising, which increased to nearly $8 million from less than $1 million in 2021 increased in the past year.

Another important source of income: MU reported a significant increase in direct institutional support from the university’s coffers, from just over $1 million in 2021 to $12,030,003 in 2022. That’s because the Campus has provided funds to sign-up for former AD Jim Sterk ($1.5 million) and former basketball coach Cuonzo Martin ($6 million). Campus funds were also used to pay for Reed-Francois’ Nevada-Las Vegas buyout ($500,000) and buyouts for several assistant soccer players. Also, the University of Athletics paid $4 million to cover tuition for out-of-state scholars.

Mizzou’s Southeastern Conference Bowl revenue distribution nearly doubled in 2022, increasing MU’s payout from $4,617,196 to $8,038,060. That’s because the SEC withheld a portion of MU’s bowl earnings in 2021 as part of its 2019 postseason ban for NCAA school violations.

Mizzou’s media rights revenue, which comprises all radio, television, internet, digital and e-commerce rights revenue, declined slightly – from $38,280,619 to $36,749,503.

The biggest drop in sales came from Mizzou’s SEC sales, down from $29,868,483 in the prior year to $4,826,827. There’s good reason for that: In May 2021, the SEC distributed $23 million in additional revenue to each school to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and used future revenue from its media rights deal to allocate those funds to each school .

These SEC funds are reflected in MU’s 2022 spending and helped pay down the department’s debt service from $28,306,200 in 2021 to $15,888,580 last year.

Mizzou spent the most on staff: $22,072,515 on coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses — up from $20,200,329 in 2021 — and another $23,740,954 on support staff and administrative salaries, more than $5 million more than 2021.

After playing limited schedules during the pandemic year, non-conference play guaranteed game spending increased from just over $500,000 to $3,805,228. Mizzou’s travel expenses also increased sharply, from $5,182,764 to $8,478,803.

With MU’s rare budget surplus, Reed-Francois will use those funds to build more resources for their teams.

“We need to rebuild our savings account,” she said, “but I also need to invest in my programs.”

In December, in a move driven by campus leaders and the University System Board of Curators, MU commissioned global consulting firm Huron to conduct an analysis to identify areas where the school can “continue to invest in athletic excellence.” The Board of Directors pays the Company’s fee of $540,000 out of capital gains and reserves. The evaluation runs until August.

“This is one way the campus and our board can invest in athletics so we can continue to thrive competitively,” says Reed-Francois.

Mizzou revenue 2022

category 2021-22 2020-21
ticket sales $13,929,479 $3,574,357
Direct institutional support $12,030,003 $1,015,000
warranty fees $25,000 $0
Donate money $29,512,444 $24,589,042
benefits in kind $43,260 $0
media rights $36,749,503 $38,280,619
NCAA Distributions $2,834,791 $2,809,621
SEC Non-Bowl Payouts $4,826,827 $29,868,483
SEC Bowl Distributions $8,038,360 $4,617,196
Programs/Discounts/Parking $2,524,809 $1,582,989
Royalties/Licenses/Advertising $7,986,678 $793,870
warehouse $329,909 $295,998
Endowment/Capital Income $1,422,279 $1,308,662
Bowl Earnings $1,176,610 $0
Other operating income $18,239,785 $1,722,307
In total $141,157,028 $110,458,144

Mizzou editions 2022

category 2021-22 2020-21
Sports student help $12,567,402 $12,284,541
Visiting Team Guarantee Fees $3,805,228 $509,772
Salaries/benefits/bonuses of coaches $22,072,515 $20,200,329
Employee Salaries/Benefits/Bonuses $23,740,954 $18,711,509
severance pay $1,288,263 $1,341,347
recruitment $2,106,651 $314,262
Travel $8,478,803 $5,182,764
Equipment/Uniforms $2,768,051 $2,389,557
game cost $3,744,731 $2,289,877
fundraising, marketing $1,090,487 $693,297
warehouse $424,142 $103,949
Debts/rent of facilities $15,888,580 $28,306,200
ghost groups $339,137 $177,040
medical expenses/insurance $1,492,121 $1,503,809
membership fee $128,792 $99,644
Meals for athletes $1,144,044 $1,282,660
overhead/administrative $16,116,694 $12,475,671
Other operating expenses $5,228,908 $5,765,815
key cost $1,362,748 $283,102
Bowl Bonuses $320,017 $0
In total $125,621,128 $113,915,145

Dave Matter and Ben Frederickson discuss the hiring of Mizzou’s new athletic director, Desiree Reed-Francois, and share some of the insights from their coverage of their vision to lead a department