ASU riding wave of record fiscal '16

Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir is shown in this file photo.
Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir is shown in this file photo.

Another fiscal year meant even more cash flowing through Arkansas State's athletic department, according to the most recent NCAA financial reports.

ASU's athletic spending rose to a record $43.1 million in fiscal 2016, an increase of almost $14 million or 47.6 percent from fiscal 2015, and it has grown from $16.3 million in fiscal 2013, according to documents ASU is required to file annually with the NCAA.

The rise in spending could put ASU at the top of the Sun Belt Conference. According to USA Today, ASU's $29.2 million of expenses ranked third in the Sun Belt in 2015. Texas State was first at $34.5 million.

ASU Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said the rise in spending was made possible by the record fiscal 2016 revenue.

"We're pretty proud of it," said Mohajir, who arrived in September 2012. "It's a great testament to our fan base and our donors. They help us grow. We don't grow without them. You don't grow with state allocated funds."

The recent jump can be attributed to plenty. Revenue from ticket sales rose from $1.3 million in 2015 to $1.67 million in 2016; conference distributions rose from $1.07 million in 2015 to $1.27 million in 2016; and money spent by fans on programs, parking and concessions jumped from $1.21 million to $3.56 million.

But the biggest rise came thanks to ASU's spending on facilities. A total of $13.9 million, according to the NCAA financial reports, was spent on the Centennial Bank Stadium expansion ($11.2 million), upgrades to the Convocation Center ($1.9 million), the resurfacing of the track ($397,003) and the relocation of tennis courts ($528,743).

The west-side stadium expansion includes the Johnny Allison Tower, which opened in September 2015 and has been in use for two football seasons. But the 2016 figures are the first that have allowed a peek inside its financial capability.

"It has exceeded our expectations," Mohajir said. "We're thrilled with the productivity and the revenues that we've generated as a result of that facility."

When Mohajir took over his current position at his alma mater almost five years ago, plans to modernize ASU's athletic facilities already were in place.

In September 2012, then-football coach Gus Malzahn helped announce the plan to pursue the building of an operations center on the football stadium's north side. Mohajir arrived later that month, and he put thebrakes on that project the next summer in favor of what eventually became the Allison Tower.

Now, 4½ years later, the tower made possible by the former ASU football letterman's $5 million donation in August 2014 has given ASU what Mohajir thought was lacking -- a stream of revenue that didn't exist before.

The NCAA data do not break down ticket sales beyond a total dollar figure, but an ASU spokesman said every seat was sold in the facility for the first two football seasons. That meant 18 suites ($720,000), 42 loge-box tickets ($189,000) and 344 club-seat tickets ($688,000) helped bring in just under $1.6 million, which doesn't count concessions and alcohol sales inside the suites.

The previous suites area yielded about $90,000 per year, he said.

ASU has used the suites beyond football games, too. Mohajir said a wedding reception is scheduled for inside the club area soon, and it has been used for university and recruiting functions and the Susan G. Komen Foundation will use it this spring for a reception.

"It's not the biggest space in Jonesboro," Mohajir said. "But it's probably one of the best, most unique places in a unique area."

The project comes with an annual bill. ASU paid an athletic facilities debt service of $1.07 million in 2016, a figure that was just $42,431 in 2015. Mohajir said the Allison Tower will be paid off in seven years.

There aren't any ongoing construction projects, a rare quiet period for an ASU athletics program that built an indoor practice facility in summer 2015 and installed in August 2014 a new football videoboard, which Mohajir said was paid off last week.

But Mohajir's hope is that Allison Tower eventually yields enough returns for the next major project -- a north end-zone expansion that includes new club seating and an operations center.

Mohajir said the school still is in the pre-construction phase and securing lease agreements for that project. No timetable has been set for its groundbreaking or completion, but he said in December that it being ready for the season-opener against Miami would have to fit into a "tight schedule."

Another concern is the fans' capability to purchase additional seating options. Revenue from ticket sales is up, and the sale of the suites went beyond Mohajir's 75 percent capacity projections. But a limit exists, and Mohajir isn't quite sure where it's at.

The solution, he said, is to provide fans with incentives to attend the games. Part of the plans for the north end zone include bar-top tables that provide easy maneuvering for fans during a game.

"What we're looking to do is build an experience," he said. "I think just building another 1,000 seats would be a challenge to sell. ... But, if you're selling an experience, that's a different entry point for people in their mind. I think they like different experiences."

Arkansas State’s athletic expenses/revenues



Ticket sales;$1,666,852;$1,313,939;+$352,913

Direct state or gov. support;$0;$2,046,500;-$2,046,500

Student fees;$5,027,521;$4,567,829;+$459,692

Direct institutional support;$8,071,017;$7,423,422;+$647,595

Game guarantees;$1,773,000;$1,533,000;+$240,000




NCAA distributions;$747,532;$709,740;+$37,792

Conference distributions;$1,270,809;$1,069,026;+$201,783



Athletics restricted endowment;$151,351;$54,985;+$96,366

Other revenue;$15,076,460;$437,648;+$14,638,812

Bowl revenues;$533,862;N/A;N/A




Athletic student aid;$6,755,420;$5,434,855;+$1,320,565


Coaching salaries;$3,058,970;$4,062,200;-$1,003,230

Coaching salaries/third party;$1,212,814;N/A;N/A

Support staff;$2,755,625;$2,726,341;+$29,284

Support staff/third party;$174,579;N/A;N/A


Team travel;$2,292,312;$2,224,502;+$67,810


Game expenses;$584,480;$563,491;+$20,989


Spirit groups;$116,021;$176,154;-$60,133

Facility debt service;$1,071,464;$42,431;+$1,029,033


Medical expenses/insurance;$293,925;$173,356;+$120,569

Membership and dues;$131,831;$122,280;+$9,551

Student meals;$73,181;N/A;$73,181

Other expenses;$16,272,881;$8,775,289;+$7,497,592

Bowl expenses;$541,619;N/A;N/A


Sports on 02/12/2017

Upcoming Events