Indiana closed its 2019 season with a visit to the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, the program’s first postseason game in three full seasons under coach Tom Allen.
That trip came at a cost, albeit one that the bowl-starved Hoosiers were surely happy to pay.
According to a breakdown of university expenses obtained by Crimson Quarry through a open records request, IU spent a total of $2,169,416 on its visit to Jacksonville. In other words: $44,416 more than the bowl payout of $2,125,000.
Or! Think about it through the eyes of a Power 5 athletic department. The game was a loss, both in terms of finances and outcome, but it also wasn’t. The net price tag of $44,416 is still a worthwhile investment for the media exposure, extra practice time and good will a January bowl game brings a school, an athletic department and the football team itself. The rewards are intrinsic.
(just, ummmmm, do your best to forget that said game ended ... * stares incredulously into the soul of Indiana football * ... like that.)
OK, back to the numbers.
Indiana’s expenses include the cost of travel, both in the air and on the ground, lodging, meals, tickets and player perks, such as gifts and entertainment. But it’s not only the players, coaches and administrators that IU’s expense report accounts for. The university spent a total of $156,727 on transportation, lodging, meals and miscellaneous items for the Marching Hundred to join the party. The attendance of cheerleaders also cost the university $17,535.
It is believed that Indiana’s team stayed six nights in Florida, flying in on Dec. 28 to prepare for the Jan. 2 game. The single-page financial report provided by IU does not show the number of people in the full traveling party (players, managers, coaches, administrators, family members, trumpet players, cheerleaders, etc.), nor does it detail the tickets sold through Indiana’s allotment. The report itself is as barebones as it could possibly be.
We’ll break down the line-by-line expenses below, but also keep in mind that IU probably didn’t spend $86,596 on hoodies, uniform patches and footballs alone. In the past, for example, trucking expenses for hauling equipment to bowl sites has been accounted for under the equipment and supplies category. Meeting room rental is likely factored into the hotel expenses, while the cost of hiring local law enforcement for traffic control purposes could be a factor in the miscellaneous travel category.
Altogether, IU’s financial report illustrates what it costs to play in a major bowl game, though it doesn’t say whether the conference provided any reimbursements or allowances. And the way the Big Ten operates, the league steps in when it can to protect programs from going too deep into the hole. According to a 2017 report by the Bloomington Herald-Times:
“Payouts for Big Ten institutions participating in bowl games go to the conference. Each official payout is only a portion of what the conference receives, and the Big Ten does not publicly disclose financial details of bowl game participation.
“It cost IU more than $2.5 million to participate in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl. That’s about $350,000 more than IU’s official payout. But when the Big Ten’s contribution for unsold tickets is factored in, IU actually received a payout of more than $2.6 million.
“(2016 was) the second year in a row the conference helped IU cover the cost of unsold bowl game tickets. More than 4,000 of the 7,500 tickets allotted to IU for the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl went unsold. IU only absorbed 950 of those unsold tickets, at a cost of about $84,000. The conference paid about $345,000 to cover the cost of 3,369 unsold tickets.”
Anyway, here’s how the Gator Bowl figures break down, per IU’s financial report:
Game tickets: $96,695
Promotion and events: $49,332
Uniforms and Bowl apparel: $249,150
Travel - Flights: $690,333
Travel - Ground: $145,406
Travel - Hotel: $219,240
Travel - Misc: $10,237
Travel - Meals: $337,236
Athletics total: $1,995,155
Travel - Ground: $58,812
Travel - Hotel: $52,590
Travel - Misc: $800
Travel - Meals: $44,524
Band total: $156,727
Travel - Flights: $847
Travel - Ground: $8,690
Travel - Hotel: $5,108
Travel - Misc: $100
Travel - Meals: $2,790
Cheer total: $17,535
Grand total: $2,169,416
Bowl payout: $2,125,000