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Tennessee's Financial Situation is Dire

Big Orange has big money problems.

Empty seats are bad for the bottom line.
Empty seats are bad for the bottom line.
Joe Robbins

Michael Smith of the Sports Business Journal published an interesting article today about how the bad Tennessee's finances are looking right now:

Now, after staggering to losing football seasons in four of the last five years and seeing attendance drop to levels last seen in the 1970s, the Vols find themselves mired in more than $200 million of debt, the most in the SEC, with reserves of just $1.95 million, the least in the conference.

The athletic department spends a startling $21 million a year on debt payments, $13.5 million of which comes from the school’s stressed $99.5 million athletic budget and the rest from donations.

A lot of the debt comes from recent updates to Neyland Stadium that in total cost $130 million. Other things that have been stressing the athletic department budget include mandatory $7 million transfers back to the school, which have been suspended for a couple years to help out the budget crunch, and buyouts for coaches and administrators totaling $11.4 million. Those buyouts, by the way, don't include the additional $7 million for Derek Dooley and his staff.

SEC schools will begin to get some more money once the post-expansion television contract updates are done, whenever that will be, and a postseason bonanza is coming for the 2014 season. Those inflows will help. When it comes down to it though, Tennessee just needs to stop firing coaches and start putting more butts in seats. No pressure, Butch Jones.