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LSU Athletic Department Reports $4 Million Deficit Despite Multiple National Championships

  • In the 2022-2023 school year, the Tigers generated $200 million but spent around $204 million.
  • An increase in women’s basketball media rights should provide a boost to the program’s deficit.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

LSU athletics are in the negative—a recent financial report shows the athletic department had a nearly $4 million deficit last school year.

The department generated about $200 million, more than half of which came from the football team, and spent around $204 million, per the state’s legislative auditor. The deficit stands at $3.87 million. Football, which generated nearly $106 million in revenues, had a profit of $54 million. That’s up nearly $18.4 million from the previous season, last year’s report shows.

During the 2022-2023 school year, the Tigers won national championships in women’s basketball and baseball, and individual championships in women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s track and field.

Women’s basketball wasn’t as successful in the charts as on the court—the program produced nearly $2.5 million, but expensed about $10.3 million. The largest portion ($4.4 million) went to Kim Mulkey and her coaching staff, about equal to men’s basketball coaching salaries and benefits, though far below the more than $18 million for the same category in football. One reason for the deficit: Media rights revenues are only listed for football and men’s basketball, which could change on Sept. 1 with the new eight-year agreement for women’s college sports.

Men’s basketball generated $1.3 million in profits, a slight dip from the previous year. The report clumps the baseball team with all non-football and basketball teams. “Other sports” had a nearly $26 million deficit, about the same amount as “non-program specific” finances.

For all sports, staffing represented the biggest chunk of the expenses, while other contributors were travel, facilities, and game expenses. Interestingly, the school shelled out roughly $5 million in severance payments, almost the same amount for recruiting.

LSU is coming off some recent budget mishaps: Last year’s report revealed that the school overpaid head football coach Brian Kelly by over $1 million. Also, it misclassified about $6.7 million in severance payments.

The $4 million deficit is a dip from 2021-2022, where the school made about $2 million in profits. The year prior, the athletic department clocked a $9.6 million deficit largely due to decreased ticket sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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