Sept. 19, 2012
Dear Mizzou Nation,
We have been so thrilled with your support and pride as we've kicked off our SEC fall seasons. Thanks to you, we've had record attendance, strong starts across all of our teams, and an incredible opportunity to showcase how our university has the best fans in the country. It's a very exciting time here at Mizzou and that excitement has helped us navigate our transition into the SEC. We want to give you some updates on how the transition is going and keep the communication open as we have throughout this process.
The season-ticket sellout for the 2012 football season has brought excellent attendance at our first three games. Not only are our fans showing up in record numbers, but the atmosphere in and around The Zou has been electric. We started with a Gold Rush for the Southeastern Louisiana game that could not have been a better launch to this historic season. This continued with the Mizzou-Georgia game where there was such an amazing outpouring of pride from our fans. We were top-notch hosts to our first SEC visitors and it was a special weekend for the University of Missouri and the communities we serve. We received incredible exposure in the press locally and around the country as we showed everyone what it means to be Tigers. That high energy kept going with the Arizona State game which was the first non-conference football game to sell out (71,004) since Sept. 29, 1984, against Notre Dame. All three home games have showcased how we bring a sea of gold that the whole country is watching.
One of the best ways we've seen your Tiger Spirit is in your patience with the new SEC rules with which we are complying. We have been very grateful for how smoothly our fans have handled the no-pass-out procedures for football this year. While this has been no small adjustment for our fans, it's exciting to see the large crowds remaining in the stadium, watching Marching Mizzou at halftime, and staying in their seats ready to go for the second half. We have had some challenges with parking entrance/departure and with some patron services on the parking lots. We've learned quickly though, and the Arizona State game saw marked improvement. The overall fan experience inside and outside the stadium is our priority and we appreciate your support as we continue to adjust and grow in the SEC.
Switching gears to the sport of basketball, we're off to a great start with our men's basketball season-ticket renewals. After our 30-5 season in 2011-12, we expect another year of outstanding crowds at Mizzou Arena. Our women's program is also excited about the new season. With three starters returning, we are looking forward to seeing them in action in their new conference.
As a reminder, there is an SEC regulation that does not allow us to place the visiting team next to our students. Logistically, the solution is to switch team benches which will put Mizzou in front of section 116 and the visiting team in front of section 114.
These changes have been challenging, but what we've seen so far is just the beginning of the upside of our move to the SEC. Many people have asked us about the financial impact of the move and what we can expect there. There has been much discussion about costs and benefits, so we thought it would be helpful to go over this with some details.
Based upon projected 2011-12 revenues from our last year in the Big 12, we anticipate about a $2.0 million increase in conference revenue distribution in 2012-13 simply from becoming a member of the SEC. We also are projecting similar revenue (or even slightly higher revenue) in 2013-14 (FY14). In years beyond FY14, we know that the SEC is working on revisions of our television packages that have big potential. While we don't have definitive information on what those adjustments might be going forward, we are excited about the opportunities for greater exposure through these efforts. Stay tuned, as we know our leadership at the SEC is working diligently on these opportunities and that we will see a positive return.
While the long-term financial upside from our move to the SEC looks very good, it's important to be mindful that there are some short-term costs. We did NOT receive any conference revenue from July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012 (FY12) because of our exit from the Big 12. We actually are responsible for exit fees for that period of time. Those exit fees are approximately $12.4 million and will be combined with a $1.7 million bonus which would have been due to us from FOX Sports for the new Big 12 Conference television package. That totals $14.1 million in overall one-time exit costs.
Additionally, in deciding to enter the SEC, we wanted to promote our university and our teams in that segment of the country. We consciously spent approximately $500,000 in advertising (print, billboard, television, etc.) to introduce and market Mizzou to our new conference in hopes of building good will and encouraging future visits to Columbia and the MU campus from the area. This is a big expense, but one that we feel very good about, and one that has been important, and very well-received.
This adds up to a lot of money right now, but what does this mean for the future? We can absorb some of these costs right away by using the reserves which we have built in Athletics. Athletics will pay the exit fees back to our university beginning in FY16 using the increased revenues we generate from being in the SEC. We should pay those back in five years or less and from that point on, we will see returns to the University.
So if you see in the media, or hear talk that our budget took a "big hit," don't be alarmed. We knew there would be costs associated with exiting, but we also knew that our long-term opportunities were much better than they have ever been. We are excited about the ability not only to replace those costs, but enhance those revenues for many years to come in the best conference in the country. We've got great leadership at Mizzou and we're all working together as we build on these opportunities!
Fall Sports Update
We're also very excited and encouraged by the starts to our seasons for all of our fall sports. Our soccer program is currently 7-1 and ranked 15th nationally, while volleyball stands 10-2. Both programs are off to 2-0 starts in SEC play, and both recently won exciting matches which were televised nationally on ESPNU as part of the outstanding SEC television package which will benefit all of our programs for years to come.
Our cross country programs got their seasons off to a great start this past weekend as the men finished first and the women finished second in a meet at Iowa State. Our men's golf team has won both fall tournaments they've played so far, and senior Jace Long has been the individual champion in both tournaments as well. Our women's golf team is also off to an outstanding start, as they have finished second in two very prestigious tournaments to open the fall season.
Thank you Fans!
Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn't draw special attention to our fans, and how you helped showcase our football program, our University, our community and our state the weekend of Sept. 8th, when we hosted Georgia in our first-ever SEC game. It is hard to quantify the number of glowing reviews that we have received from all over the nation following that game. While the outcome of the game didn't go in our favor, the way our team played, the atmosphere that our fans created, and the way they represented Mizzou was absolutely a message sent to the country that we belong in the nation's premier athletic conference. The amount of positive feedback we received after that weekend was really gratifying to all of us who have worked so hard to make this transition happen.
Tiger Nation, and specifically our fans, made quite a statement that weekend. You are excited about being part of the SEC, and we're so grateful for your unwavering support. The way you represented Mizzou, and especially the hospitality you showed our visitors from Georgia was absolutely first-class.
As we continue our transition in the coming years, we'll see more and more upside from our SEC membership and we look forward to updating you on all of the exciting progress. Thank you for ALL you do for Mizzou.
Mizzou Director of Athletics