Dear Tiger Fan,
As we welcome a New Year and as the LSU Tigers prepare to play in their third BCS National Championship Game in nine seasons, it is a good time to reflect on the value of a successful football program and the impact athletics can have on a University and the surrounding community.
Just last week, Forbes Magazine ranked the LSU football program the best in the SEC and in the top five in the country among "College Football's Most Valuable Teams." It measured programs primarily for their financial impact on their universities and revenue generated for other sports teams in their athletics programs.
We say it often but it cannot be said too much - LSU Athletics uses no state tax dollars and no student fees. All funding for the athletics program comes from ticket sales, radio and TV revenues, concessions and merchandise sales, corporate sponsorships, Southeastern Conference revenue distribution and private donations.
In fact, LSU has one of the few athletics programs in the country - and the only one in Louisiana -- that not only fully funds its entire operations and capital outlay but also contributes back to the financial well-being of the university.
As state general appropriations for LSU has dropped by $92 million over the last three years, the Athletic Department has stepped forward to assume even a greater financial burden in support of the University. You may have read last week that, to help the university survive an $8.1 million mid-year budget cut, the Athletic Department will take on $1.5 million for funding the Academic Center for Student-Athletes. That is only the tip of the iceberg of what Athletics does for LSU.
Consider the following. In the last 10 years the Athletic Department has contributed to the University more than $5 million to enhance the appearance of the campus, such as replace and repair sidewalks, protect the oaks and magnolia trees and build paved areas for students to enjoy between classes.
The Athletic Department has contributed more than $4 million in the last decade for classroom repairs and renovations including the replacement of hundreds of chairs and desks, many of which were decades old.
The Athletic Department has also spent more than $5 million in the last 10 years to build or assist with the building of parking lots that are used not only for sporting events but for the day-to-day use of students, faculty and staff.
And the success of the Athletics program helps drive logo licensing sales, generating more than $34 million over the last decade, half of which is retained by the University.
In the last two academic years alone, Athletics contributed more than $7 million to the academic side of the University, including $3.4 for the construction of a new Band Hall, $1.3 million toward the construction of a new complex for the College of Business plus regular contributions to the Campus Beautification Fund at $1.3 million, the Classroom Renovation Fund at $1 million and the Chancellor's Excellence Fund at $400,000.
When we say LSU Athletics is self-sustaining, it is truly a boat on its own bottom. Besides generating all of its own revenues, the Athletic Department pays five percent of its revenues to the University each year to compensate for campus services such as LSU Police, accounting services, purchasing, human resource management and so on. Last year Athletics paid $4.4 million to the University for these purposes.
Meanwhile, the Athletic Department is financially responsible for maintaining all athletics facilities, including payment for utilities, as well as game day costs such as cleanup and security. And some athletics facilities are regularly used as classrooms.
A fact that often goes overlooked is that the Athletic Department pays tuition and fees for all 450 of its scholarship student-athletes. Athletics paid nearly $9.8 million in scholarship costs last year alone, making it one of the University's best customers.
In all, in the academic year 2010-11, the Athletic Department passed nearly $17 million to the University for services provided, scholarship costs and direct contributions. Meanwhile, it took zero dollars away from the academic mission of the University.
There are other great benefits for a university to have an ultra-successful athletics program. It has been shown that in the year following a national championship, enrollment to the school increases and private donations soar.
It has also been shown that a successful athletics program plays a vital role in its community. The existence of LSU Athletics means millions of dollars to the local economy. Businesses do better, hotels are full, restaurants are booked, sporting goods sales are up and grocery store lines are backed up when the Tigers win.
Thank you for the role you play in making LSU Athletics as successful as it is. The passion of our fans is what sets Tiger sports apart from the rest. The tickets, hot dogs, Cokes and merchandise you buy, the donations you make and your support of our sponsors give our student-athletes the tools they need to win and to graduate and provides for a better University for all students. Your passion and enthusiasm lead directly to the success of our students, the epitome of our Love Purple/Live Gold motto.
As you settle onto your sofa or into your easy chair in front of the television next Monday night, or as you take your seat in the Superdome to watch LSU play Alabama for the national championship, you can take pride that your athletics program makes a difference and does it the right way.
As always, we welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately we cannot answer every e-mail we receive, but please be assured they are all read.
Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics