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UCLA makes progress while posting a $28-million athletic department deficit


When UCLA welcomed back fans amid the waning pandemic, it also hailed an accompanying benefit.

Revenue. Lots of it.

Profits from ticket sales and media rights fees from schedules returning much closer to normal helped the Bruins more than halve the athletic department deficit they had posted the previous fiscal year.

UCLA’s debt of $28.045 million during the 2022 fiscal year was less than half the record $62.5 million from 2021, though it still left the athletic department facing a four-year shortfall of $130.8 million roughly 1½ years before it can tap a spigot of cash from the Big Ten Conference.

The $17.4 million in ticket revenue during the most recent fiscal year was up from zero the previous year and the $27.7 million in media rights fees was nearly double the $14.4 million from the 2021 fiscal year.

There remained some constraints that limited revenue opportunities. Three basketball games were canceled and three others inside Pauley Pavilion were limited to players’ families amid a winter surge in COVID-19 cases. The Rose Bowl required proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of kickoff, likely keeping some fans away.

“The severe impact of the pandemic continued to be felt at collegiate athletic departments across the nation in 2021-2022, including the cancellation of games, an inability to host fans, significant losses of ticket sales revenue, media rights, sponsorships and contributions,” UCLA athletic department spokesman Scott Markley said in a statement. “While we work to increase revenue and decrease expenses, we continue to provide our student-athletes and fans with a world-class experience.”

Help is on the way. UCLA is expected to bring in between $65 million and $75 million per year in media rights revenue after joining the Big Ten in August 2024, though that infusion of funds won’t be reflected in the fiscal budgets for a few years. Additional revenue from expected appearances by Big Ten teams in the College Football Playoff and NCAA tournament should also significantly boost the Bruins’ bottom line.

This story will be updated.

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