Ohio State athletic department lowers deficit projection for 2021 fiscal year

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
An eight-game football season helped reduce some of the financial strain on OSU athletics caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio State’s athletic department is projecting a $50 million budget deficit for the 2021 fiscal year that ends next month, a figure that is lower than earlier estimates and reduces some of the financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic.

The updated shortfall was included on a document prepared by the department that outlined its accomplishments from the 2020-21 academic year.

In an interview in January following the Buckeyes’ football season, athletic director Gene Smith said he was expecting the deficit to be just under $70 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Had the football season been called off entirely, the department would have faced an even larger budget hole. An outlook prepared in September projected it to run a $107 million deficit, prompting layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts among employees.

Since the Buckeyes played eight games, including a pair of College Football Playoff contests, in the late fall and early winter, it recouped much of its media rights revenue, which for football is the second-largest income source for the department after ticket sales.

The department also reduced its deficit projection due to a variety of cost-cutting measures in recent months, according to the document.

Audited figures and a full breakdown of the 2021 fiscal year budget aren’t likely to be available until next year.

To manage the budget deficit from the pandemic-shaped year, the department has planned to obtain a loan from the university.

It also could be helped by an $18.7 million surplus it reported from the fiscal 2020 year that came as the result of generating a school-record $233.9 million.