Athletic Department Budget Planning Tips and Worksheet

A strong budget helps athletic directors find success despite tight school spending. Watchfire compiled a list of factors to consider in budget planning.

YOUR VISION: How do you envision your program this year, in five years, in ten years? A successful budget will reflect your institution’s long- and short-term goals. Share your vision with everyone: coaches, student-athletics, faculty, school board and the community. A shared mission provides justification for purchases and grows support. 

EXPENSES: Estimate major expenses like transportation, uniforms, equipment, officials, security and awards. Be aware of changes. Did the district increase transportation costs or is there a new purchasing policy? Once you have complied expenses, analyze the numbers.

  • Divide expenses by team and by gender. Title IX does not require mirror image programs, but make sure your planning benefits everyone. 
  • Are there shortfalls? Ask for commitments, like multi-year advertising commitments from sponsors. Stadium, field house and scoreboard naming rights are growing in popularity and often come with ten year contracts.
  • Are there surpluses in the budget? If so, what will they be used for?

INCOME: Athletic programs need revenue opportunities. Estimate annual income from advertising sales, donations, gate receipts, booster giving and fundraising.

Instead of raising sponsorship prices, create new experiences at a higher price point. Ask a local business owner to record a video message to the team. The impact of a video on your Watchfire scoreboard, instead of a static logo, can demand a sponsorship level three of four times higher than what you have now. (Invite your Entrepreneur class to help develop these new opportunities.)

Continue the budget brainstorming. Download Watchfire’s scoreboard budget worksheet to help estimate potential advertising revenue.