Alabama’s total expenses for its postseason football run in 2017 exceeded $7.5 million dollars, according to information obtained by The Tuscaloosa News in an open records request.
Those expenses account for transportation, lodging, tickets absorbed and employee bonuses. Alabama paid a total of $2,219,486.86 in bonuses to 72 employees for the largest single expense of the postseason.
Those costs were partially offset by a payout of $4.15 million for its participation in the Sugar Bowl and the national championship game. Alabama received an additional $124,000 in travel expenses disbursed through the SEC, coming to a total of $4,274,000 for its postseason payout.
Alabama’s expenses totaled $7,591,447, meaning its postseason expenses exceeded revenue by $3,317,447.
“The fact that Alabama has earned a spot in every College Football Playoff is truly something to be proud of,” director of athletics Greg Byrne said in a statement to The Tuscaloosa News. “Certainly with those opportunities come added costs, however there are so many positives from an exposure standpoint for athletics, the University and our state. I will also say that this year we worked on addressing some of those added costs in being more efficient with our travel party size, which we will continue to do in the future.”
The Sugar Bowl appearance cost $2,825,659, slightly more than the national championship game in Atlanta. Expenses for the College Football Playoff Championship Game were $2,546,299. Travel costs and lodging/per diem costs for the championship game were lower than for the Sugar Bowl. The stay in Atlanta was shorter than in New Orleans. Costs for lodging and food were also cheaper in Atlanta.
A significant expense for both the Sugar Bowl and national championship games were unsold tickets absorbed by Alabama. The school sold 10,660 tickets to the Sugar Bowl, but absorbed 1,624 tickets at a cost of $293,050. Of those, only 152 tickets were unsold; the rest were used for players’ families or other purposes. Alabama sold 17,597 tickets to the national championship game, but absorbed 1,737 tickets at a cost of $684,475. Only 136 of those national championship tickets were absorbed.
The largest single bonus went to coach Nick Saban, who received $400,000 for winning the national championship. His staff of nine on-field assistants received a combined $1,079,100.05. Byrne did not receive a bonus. The incentives in his contract are built around the progress of the athletic department as a whole rather than the performance of individual programs.
Despite winning the national championship, Alabama actually paid out less in bonuses to its employees than a year ago. Alabama’s 2016 postseason bonuses totaled $2,296,809.77, while this season totaled $2,219,486,86. That’s partially because unlike in the previous season, Alabama didn’t have to pay bonuses for an SEC championship. The bonuses for the 2016 SEC championship totaled $458,423.46 on their own.
Alabama’s total expenses for its 2016 postseason were slightly lower at $7,408,333.77.
The school’s travel party to the Sugar Bowl consisted of 395 people on two planes. The travel party to the national championship totaled 376 people on two planes.
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