Erick Harper can’t attribute the UNLV athletics department’s financial success in fiscal year 2022 to any one specific reason. Instead, the UNLV athletic director stressed the importance of balance when approaching the Rebels’ budget.
“Every year, you have goals and expectations to work with,” Harper said. “The primary thing is we do everything in our power to generate as much revenue as we possibly can … and at the same time making sure we’re being responsible with our expense projections as well.”
UNLV athletics earned a net revenue of $1,295,114 during the 2022 fiscal year, according to the school’s annual NCAA membership financial report, which was acquired by the Review-Journal. The net revenue is the highest UNLV has reported in the past four years, with 2019 the last year not affected by COVID-19.
The Rebels reported a net revenue of $549,488 during the 2021 fiscal year, $73,821 during 2020 and $339,025 during 2019. UNLV’s 2022 fiscal year began July 1, 2021, and ended June 30, 2022.
The 2023 athletic department fiscal year report won’t be available until March.
This past fiscal year was also the first under the direction of Harper, who took over as interim director of athletics in August 2021 following former director of athletics Desiree Reed-Francois’ departure to Missouri. Harper was appointed the permanent director of athletics in January 2022.
Harper is happy to see UNLV athletics make as much money as it did during 2022. In a perfect world, Harper said his goal is for UNLV to make more than $500,000 every year, which allows the athletics department to start building some financial reserves.
However, he added that new technology, equipment and the rising cost of operations mean reserves usually get spent quickly.
“If we could do half a million dollars per year, I’d be ecstatic,” Harper said.
While UNLV blew past Harper’s ideal projection for 2022, the director of athletics admitted there were variables during the past fiscal year which aren’t guaranteed to continue.
The athletics department reported $6,041,855 as other operating revenue, according to the NCAA membership financial report. During the prior three years, UNLV hadn’t reported revenues more than $1,400,000 in that category.
Harper explained most of that money came from renting UNLV’s sports facilities for athletic events. The Rebels allowed the East-West Shrine Bowl to use the Fertitta Football Complex, for example, which earned the athletic department some unexpected revenue.
The Shrine Bowl was only in Las Vegas because it’s part of the NFL Pro Bowl Games weekend, which was played at Allegiant Stadium. Both events were played in Las Vegas for the past two seasons, but their continued presence in Nevada is not guaranteed, meaning Harper feels he can’t continually count on it as a source of revenue.
One factor Harper does believe UNLV can rely on for revenue is the football team. The Rebels made $1,418,311 during 2022 after losing money in each of the prior three fiscal years, two of which were impacted by COVID-19.
Ticket sales made up a large portion of the football team’s revenue. UNLV reported earning $4,828,029 on football tickets in its NCAA membership report, a significant increase from past seasons.
Harper pointed out 2022 was UNLV’s first season in Allegiant Stadium with no COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, he said UNLV’s 2022 football ticket revenues weren’t comparable to its 2019 numbers because the Rebels were still playing at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“You’re looking at three times the cost, four times the cost of a season ticket at Allegiant,” Harper said, “versus the cost of a premium seat at Sam Boyd.”