LSU athletic department transfers $10.05 million to the university’s academic fund, nearly $3 million more than required

The late Huey Long loved LSU and its football team, so chances are he would have embraced the athletic department sharing the wealth with its cash-strapped academic side.

The LSU athletic department announced Monday that it will transfer $10.05 million to the university’s academic fund this year, nearly $3 million more than is required by the school’s Athletics Fund Transfer Policy.

The policy went into effect in 2012, guaranteeing a $7.2 million payment from LSU’s athletic department to academics, plus a portion of any surplus the athletic department may end up with each fiscal year.

“This surplus comes on the heels of an extremely challenging budget year, and the real beneficiaries will be our students,” LSU President F. King Alexander said in a news release. “Few athletic departments across the country have the capacity to give back to their university the way ours does, and we appreciate their deep commitment to all our students.”

According to USA Today, LSU’s athletic department ranked sixth nationally in revenue for the 2013-14 fiscal year with $133.7 million in revenue while spending $122.9 million. The department was one of only seven in the nation out of 230 schools listed that relied completely on self-generated revenue from ticket sales, concessions, merchandising and TV and radio contracts.

“It’s very fair,” Athletic Director Joe Alleva said of what he termed a “profit-sharing arrangement” between LSU’s athletic and academic sides. “It allows us to keep some of our surplus, build reserves and pay off debt.”

Alleva said helping the academic side of the university also helps LSU’s teams.

“The stronger our academics are, the better it is for our teams” in terms of recruiting, he said.

In addition to the $10.05 million transfer, the athletic department also paid the university $13.2 million for the cost of student-athlete tuitions. Alleva said that cost includes about $3.5 million to $4 million annually in out-of-state tuition fees.

Alleva said LSU’s athletic department is the only one in Louisiana that pays the difference for its out-of-state athletes and is studying the possibility of having that part of the tuition fee waived in the future.

Conversely, Alexander said in March that the university is exploring ways to increase the guaranteed annual $7.2 million transfer.

“There is no athletic event without the university,” he said.

Higher education in Louisiana maintained its current level of state funding in the 2015-16 state budget, avoiding deep budget cuts thanks to $615 million in new tax revenue.

LSU’s athletic budget surplus was no doubt in part a result of a significant increase in revenue from the Southeastern Conference because of the SEC Network, the SEC-dedicated sports channel that went on the air in August, and its participation in the new College Football Playoff.

Revenue for each SEC school increased from approximately $20.9 million to $31.2 million. Alleva said LSU incurred about $2.5 million in startup costs for the new network that were factored into last year’s athletic budget.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.

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