Tennessee planning on fans in stands with Vols’ budget cuts

Tennessee’s athletic budget for 2020-21 is based on the Volunteers having fans in the stands for the upcoming football season but still includes a $10.1 million cut in overall revenues.

Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee, said Friday reducing the number of fans further because of the coronavirus pandemic would have a “significant impact” on the budget.

“But we are financially prepared to withstand any significant problem,” Boyd said.

The Tennessee Board of Trustees approved the athletics budget unanimously Friday along with the rest of the university’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

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The Volunteers expect to collect and spend $129.5 million on athletics. That’s down from the $139.6 million budgeted for the fiscal year ending Tuesday.

Tennessee is projecting $29.8 million in revenue in ticket sales this upcoming season, which is a drop of 19.4%. That is $7.1 million less than the $37 million taken in during the 2019-20 season. John Compton, chairman of the UT Board of Trustees, said the university in position to handle the decrease, and then some — if needed.

“If it were 30% or 40% or 50% lower, we would be able to handle it,” Compton said.

Athletic director Phillip Fulmer has said Tennessee is planning on a full stadium this season and will adjust as needed. The Vols had been in line for a boost in attendance this season after averaging 74,870 fans per game in 2019.

The Vols have the fifth-largest capacity in college football with Neyland Stadium holding 102,455 and are coming off a season where they won their last six games. They also are scheduled to host both Florida and Alabama — traditionally big draws — this season. Tennessee also hosts Charlotte, Furman and Troy.

Tennessee plans to spend $10.5 million on travel in the upcoming year, which would be $1.49 million or 12.4% less than last year.

The only area where Tennessee athletics plans to spend more is on student aid with $17.2 million, which is an 8.1% increase.

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