Minnesota Athletics: A Leader in Debt

Minnesota Athletics: A Leader in Debt

The University of Minnesota has already scaled back its initial plans for new athletic facilities, but many are pushing for construction to begin within the next two months. The (current) initial phase is estimated to cost $150 million.

The U has reported private contributions of approximately $70 million, but much of that amount is only pledged, with agreed-upon cash payments to be made over the next decade.

It appears that the Athletic Department will need to take on more debt in order to move the project forward in the near future. So, what has the U’s debt load looked like as compared to its Big Ten peers in the past and how might things look in the future? Today, we look to answer those questions.

The average debt outstanding on athletic facilities in the Big Ten in 2013 was $121 million. Only two athletic departments – Michigan and Minnesota – owed more than $170 million.

Athletic Department Year Total Debt Outstanding on Athletic Facilities
University of Michigan 2013 $228,405,000
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 2013 $213,240,000
The Ohio State University 2013 $169,342,000
University of Iowa 2013 $145,575,000
University of Wisconsin-Madison 2013 $124,779,662
Purdue University 2013 $124,175,000
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2013 $108,987,901
Michigan State University 2013 $82,200,000
Indiana University-Bloomington 2013 $52,123,117
Pennsylvania State University 2013 $48,383,590
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2013 $28,335,000

Data credit: USA Today and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

The average debt service in 2013 of each school – that is, the payments of principal and interest made by the athletic department – is listed below. The Gophers had the highest debt service burden in the Big Ten.

Athletic Department Year Annual Debt Service on Athletic Facilities
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 2013 $16,160,000
The Ohio State University 2013 $15,882,000
University of Michigan 2013 $15,155,000
University of Wisconsin-Madison 2013 $11,734,276
University of Iowa 2013 $10,265,171
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2013 $9,681,588
Purdue University 2013 $8,977,342
Michigan State University 2013 $7,766,847
Indiana University-Bloomington 2013 $4,424,805
University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2013 $3,364,180
Pennsylvania State University 2013 $2,852,984

Data credit: USA Today and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

If additional debt is taken on for purposes of the facilities project, the U figures to retain its hold as a leader in debt.

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