Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Razorback Foundation asking for a little love
It was to be expected.
The Razorback Foundation is trying to get in front of the big curveball that is headed toward it and all of college athletics.
The coronavirus pandemic is going to cost the Razorbacks and all their Power 5 brethren millions of dollars.
The Foundation, in a Monday email, politely asked for donations.
A love offering.
This has nothing to do with tickets, parking or privilege. It is about getting money coming in before so much money is going out.
The email is not obtrusive. Anyone can ignore an email.
Yes, the Foundation has spent far too much money on the mistakes of former athletic director Jeff Long, and also those of former interim athletic director Julie Cromer and Chancellor Joe Steinmetz.
Cromer and Steinmetz threw too much money at an unproven coach, and Chad Morris went 0-14 in SEC play before being fired prior to the end of his second season.
Buying out the contracts of two former coaches is being dealt with, with one of them in federal court.
The email that went out Monday is about the future of Razorback athletics.
It is about supporting the more than 465 Razorback athletes who don’t get a cent from the state or taxpayers, or even university funds.
No one is saying exactly how much will be lost. After some salary reductions and travel cuts, the budget is probably around $120 million.
In the SEC, that’s not a ton of money like Alabama, LSU or Georgia. Texas A&M spent $169 million in the 2018-19 season but brought in more than $212 million, second only to Texas in the big picture.
Alabama spent $185 million that season, but only brought in $164 million.
That same year the Razorbacks spent $129 million but brought in $137 million.
Saying the income will be reduced drastically this season is saying the Republicans and Democrats are not picnicking together any time soon.
The Razorbacks lost two home games, reduced from a rare seven at home to five.
Attendance has been sliding for several years.
For a while, it seemed the school was reporting attendance at whatever number Long dreamed was there.
Then the actual attendance was required.
During the winter-spring donation/ticket sales drive, preseason ticket sales were around 32,00o, leaving 43,000 unsold.
Now the UA will do its part in the fight against the virus by restricting attendance to between 16,000-17,000.
That’s basically a 50% hit already for ticket sales and concessions in what was expected to be a down season.
Most likely, the Foundation took a hit in donations, too.
The UA is not a school rich in endowments. Arkansas has some incredibly wealthy supporters, but the mean income is close to $47,000 per year.
The national average is more than $63,000.
That’s why the Foundation always has been so important to Razorback athletics, especially football, which like every major university in the country is the bread winner.
Football revenue already was going to be down, and now ticket revenue is cut in half.
That’s why the Razorback Foundation created ONE Razorback Fund.
It is trying to offset the millions of dollars that is going to be lost. Not to mention the extra costs of safeguarding athletes from the virus.
Probably every person who has ever bought a ticket through the UA ticket office has received some sort of communication about ONE Razorback Fund.
These are desperate times across the country, and not just at schools.
The Razorback Foundation is passing the hat, asking for a love offering. Those who can’t or won’t oblige are still allowed to love their Hogs.
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