As the Cost of Attendance (CoA) issue emerged, DU's Athletic Director, Peg-Bradley Doppes, took a public stand opposing CoA payments. As a private university with a number of niche sports, DU does not have the television revenue, ticket revenue, state/taxpayer revenue, or huge endowments to easily absorb CoA's, especially if payment schemes continue to escalate. With no formal guidelines, DU is taking a wait and see approach during the first year and monitoring the impact on recruiting with their coaches.
It has long been known that DU accepts financial losses by the athletic department in exchange for brand awareness, and, of course, D-1 athletics are expected as part of the portfolio of a great university. Football is a dead issue for DU with only the Power Five Conferences guaranteed of making large revenues. While hockey and men's lacrosse are DU's crown jewels, they are both very expensive ventures to operate. Gymnastics draws big crowds and is backed by strong donor dollars. Men's basketball has been up and down with ticket revenue based on performance, conference affiliation, and DU's quarter system which leaves students off campus during key attendance periods. That leaves us with women's basketball, women's lacrosse, women's volleyball, men's & women's soccer, golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing - all low or non-revenue sports.
Root Sports is covering select home games for hockey, lacrosse, basketball, and volleyball. This likely provides limited revenue but does generate much needed awareness and visibility for the University. Furthermore, DU has been testing affiliate relationships with larger conferences (gymnastics-Big 12, Lacrosse - Big East) which has the potential for upside revenue in both TV and attendance. Secondary revenue comes from the rental of the Ritchie Center, camps, and private events for the community.
Unlike a state university, DU cannot seek tax-payer revenue. While DU has been steadily growing athletic department endowments and general educational endowments, DU's total endowment still lags many of its peers.
On the plus side, DU does have excellent administration support, very good athletic facilities and a host of strong coaches. DU also is situated in one of the countries largest and fastest growing markets. Finally, DU has a growing national and international reputation which should leave the university in relatively strong fiscal condition going forward.
Part 3: What Should DU Do?