LSU athletics earned millions in 2022 fiscal year after deficit in 2021. Here's why.
BATON ROUGE - LSU athletics earned a $1.94 million operating surplus during the 2022 fiscal year, according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's report.
The university's athletic department earned a $6.54 million surplus in the 2022 fiscal year, according to LSU's annual audit report, but $4.6 million of that money was sent back to the school at large.
The university's fiscal year lasted from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
According to the LSU's annual audit report in 2021, LSU suffered a $9.6 million operating deficit in the 2021 fiscal year, despite receiving a $23.3 million league-wide supplemental bailout from the SEC and cutting $24.1 million in expenses from its 2020 fiscal year budget.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic being less of a factor during the 2022 fiscal year, LSU rebounded financially, in large part thanks to a greatly increased revenue stream.
LSU earned $199 million in operating revenues during the 2022 fiscal year, $77.4 million more than last year's total, according to the school's annual audit reports in 2021 and 2022.
One of the most dramatic changes came through ticket sales. LSU only earned $5.7 million in football ticket sales in the 2021 fiscal year, but in 2022 came away with $38.4 million, according to the documents. The university also made financial gains with ticket sales in men's and women's basketball and "other sports."
The increase in ticket sale revenue is unsurprising given that LSU limited its attendance capacity for football games to 25% during the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Those revenue losses fell under the 2021 fiscal year.
But the greatest financial boon the university benefitted from came from contributions, earning $73.8 million in donations from the Tiger Athletic Foundation, lease payments or rental fee expenses for athletic facilities and money received for ticket sales "above face value," among other revenues, according to the annual report.
The increase in contributions resulted in LSU earning $54 million more in 2022 than it did in the 2021 fiscal year, according to the documents.
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LSU was also able to churn out a profit despite greatly increasing its expenses, even beyond pre-pandemic levels. The university spent $192.8 million on total operating expenses in the 2022 fiscal year, $61.2 million more than in 2021, $37.2 million more than in 2020 and $43.8 million more than in 2019, according to the documents.
The greatest change in expenses between the 2022 and 2021 fiscal years, according to the annual audit reports, came with coaches' salaries. LSU spent $59.4 million in coaches' salaries in 2022 compared to $30.8 million in 2021. That salary increase coincided with the university's decision to replace football coach Ed Orgeron with Brian Kelly.
The university also spent $22 million more on non-program-specific expenses.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.