(Updated 7 p.m.)
ST. SIMONS ISLAND — Georgia’s athletics department will finish this fiscal year with about $7 million more in revenue than expenses — and will donate $2 million of it to help the university through hard financial times.
The contribution will be in addition to the $6 million over three years pledged by the UGA Athletic Association to the university’s academic programs last year.
The latest gift, which will go toward funding professorships and scholarships, was unanimously approved by the Athletic Association’s board of directors Thursday after a recommendation from athletics director Damon Evans.
Evans said the contribution was appropriate given the university’s struggle with reduced state funding and the Athletic Association’s surplus. The association is a separate legal and financial entity from the rest of the university.
“I listen to what’s going on throughout our campus,” Evans said. “When you are operating like we are and have the resources … I just thought at this time if we can help out there, let’s do it.”
UGA President Michael Adams told the board that he’s grateful for the gift.
“I want to thank the association for its support to the university in what I think is the toughest 18 months the university has had financially since World War II,” Adams said.
“I think the relationship with those two sides of the house is as strong as it’s been in my 13 years here,” Adams added.
The Athletic Association board, meeting at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, received an upbeat financial report. The association will bring in about $84.8 million in revenue for the 2010 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Even after the $2 million donation to the university, the association will have about $5 million left to add to its reserve funds. The association’s reserves will top $65 million at that point.
“This is really an amazing report in these economic times,” Adams said.
On one down note, Georgia reported that “Hartman Fund” donations, which determine football season-ticket priority, declined by about $500,000 this year, from $23.3 million in 2009 to $22.8 million. The donations reached a record $26.1 million in 2008.
“It’s a combination of the economy and how we performed as a team,” Evans said of the decline. “The support is still there, but I just think when people are excited and people have a little bit more expendable income, they’ll put more toward their ticket priority. Right now, with the economy and so forth, people are a little bit more hesitant. But we’ll still be sold out.”
About 2,000 season tickets were not renewed, up from 1,500 non-renewals last year, but all have been claimed by other donors.
The athletics board approved a budget of $84.75 million for fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1, roughly the same amount as this past year. As with other university employees, athletics department staffers — including coaches — generally are not getting raises unless they have multi-year contracts that call for increases.
In other action Thursday, the athletics board approved spending: