USA Today report art

North Texas ranked third among Conference USA schools in total revenue for 2019 at $40.8 million, according to USA Today's annual report on finances in college athletics. 

The North Texas athletics department brought in $40.8 million in revenue 2019 and finished with a budget surplus, according to USA Today‘s annual survey of colleges across the country.

UNT’s expenses came in at $39.9 million, according to the paper’s database that was released on Thursday.

The school’s revenue in athletics ranked third among Conference USA schools. Only Old Dominion and Charlotte brought in more money at $47.0 million and $40.9 million, respectively.

UNT’s revenue increased $2.8 million from 2018 to 2019, largely due to an increase in student fees. The school brought in $12.6 million in fees in 2019, up from $10.6 million in 2018.

UNT students approved an increase in their athletic fees in early 2018.

The school’s contributions ($2.7 million) as well as revenue from media rights and licensing ($6 million) were also up slightly.

Those increases helped offset a rise in the UNT’s salaries for coaches and staff as well as the rising cost of scholarships.

The school spent $14.4 million on salaries in 2019, up from $13.6 million in 2018. The cost of scholarships rose from $5.9 million to $6.3 million.

The report paints an optimistic picture of where UNT stands during a time of uncertainty in college athletics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of the disease forced the cancellation of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as well as spring sports.

Wren Baker mug

Wren Baker

UNT athletic director Wren Baker estimated earlier this year that the loss of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and spring sports would cost the program up to $2.5 million in revenue.

The question for UNT now is if it will be able to maintain its solid financial footing at a time the fall sports season, including football, is in doubt.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have both canceled nonconference games in multiple sports, including football.

UNT has already lost a nonconference home game against Colorado in soccer, a school source told the Denton Record-Chronicle on Wednesday.

C-USA is examining all options for a fall sports season, league commissioner Judy MacLeod confirmed last week in a statement provided to the Record-Chronicle.

“We are continuing to discuss with our membership, but no decisions have been made,” MacLeod said. “We are receiving advice from medical experts and examining all options.”

The league moved its football media days to an online format earlier this year before indefinitely postponing the event on Thursday.

Losing the nonconference season in football would be costly for UNT. The Mean Green are set to receive a $1.25 million payout for playing at Texas A&M on Sept. 12.

The NCAA released its next set of return-to-sports guidelines on Thursday that include several measures UNT has already instituted, such as testing for COVID-19.

“This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”

UNT athletic director Wren Baker appealed to the school’s fans and supporters earlier this summer to help solidify the program’s solid financial standing reflected in USA Today‘s report. He said the best way to do so is donating to the Mean Green Scholarship Fund and purchasing season tickets.

“The only way we can ensure we continue that momentum regardless of what happens in the fall is with support and resources,” Baker said. “Our Mean Green Scholarship Fund members are an integral part of that.

“I have been really candid in saying that people have gone through personal losses with their health and finances. For those individuals, all I can say is thank you for the support you have given us. If you can’t do it at the same level this year, I understand. For the people who can, we need you now more than ever.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

Recommended for you