Iowa State University’s athletics department has repaid the $6 million loan it received to cover last year’s pandemic related losses, while the University of Iowa’s athletics department has a 15 year repayment plan ahead for a much larger loan.
State law forbids the state-supported universities from getting bank loans to cover operating expenses, so the University of Iowa dipped into its cash reserves to come up with a $50 million loan. Terry Johnson, the chief financial officer for the University of Iowa, said that covered losses during last season.
“Athletics, as you know, had issues and the Big 10 limited the number of attendees to sporting events,” Johnson said Monday during an online forum with Iowa House members. “We saw significant declines to the revenues for the athletics department.”
The Hawkeye Athletics Department is paying interest on the loan of 2.5% and Johnson indicated the loan could be paid off before the full 15 years elapse. “But we want to make sure that we’re not harming any of the athletics programs at the same time,” Johnson said.
Revenue from Iowa’s January 1 appearance in the Citrus Bowl isn’t likely to put much of a dent in the repayment plan, according to Johnson. That’s because ticket sales and other proceeds from Big 10 appearances in bowl games are shared equally among the 14 teams in the conference.
“The idea there is to try and keep all of these programs as strong as possible and competitive on the field, obviously,” Johnson said. “…There might be a slight positive here to the university and that, if there is, can be directed to this loan payoff, but it’s not the significant dollars that most of the general public thinks it actually is.”
The University of Iowa is one of a handful of athletics departments in the country that are entirely self-funded — in other words the budget for Hawkeye Athletics is separate from the university. The Cyclone Athletics Department repaid its $6 million loan to cover the projected deficit caused by last year’s pandemic closures, but Iowa State University did not charge interest on the loan, since it was repaid before the last state fiscal year ended on June 30.