- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina athletic department will surpass $100 million in revenue for the first time ever, according to budget proposal given to university trustees on Friday.

During its presentation, the department said it expects to bring in $105.9 million in revenue for the 2015-16 academic year. The total was boosted by last week’s announcement from the Southeastern Conference it would distribute a record total of more than $31 million to each member school. That SEC figure was an increase of more than $8 million over what it distributed to schools a year ago.

“I think it’s significant that we are going in the right direction,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said. “We’re still increasing our revenues, and certainly we need to do that. It’s important that we continue in that direction.”

The increase is essential, Tanner saidd, because South Carolina will begin adding cost-of-attendance figures to athletic scholarships this coming season. South Carolina will add $4,151 per athlete to the total scholarship cost.

The school, Tanner said, is also adding a new dorm for athletes that combined with the scholarship additions, will cost about $1.8 million in next year’s budget.

Tanner was questioned by trustees on the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee about whether South Carolina’s figures on scholarship additions were a fixed cost or could be increased or dropped because of an athlete’s location or importance to a sports’ future success.

University President Harris Pastides said while cost-of-attendance is difficult to define, as long as the school is close to the cap limit of $5,000 per athlete.

“It’s not going to be an issue of high competitiveness,” Pastides said.

South Carolina has found other ways to boost revenues. Among them is the season-opening football game with North Carolina on Sept. 3 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, the home field of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

Both schools are guaranteed $3.2 million for appearing. Tanner said since game-day costs like traveling - it’s about a 100-mile drive between South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium and the Panthers’ home field - will be minimal.

“That’s a great day for us,” Tanner told the trustees.

South Carolina will pay $585,000 in guarantees to two football opponents this fall, $300,000 to UCF for its visit to Williams-Brice on Sept. 26 and $285,000 to Citadel when it travels there Nov. 21.

Individual ticket prices for home games range from $80 against rival Clemson, $70 against SEC opponents LSU and Florida to $25 for Citadel.

The cost-of-attendance additions are part of what schools in Power 5 conferences like the SEC are doing to offset shortfalls that athletes can find themselves in because they can’t make spending money due to heavy workloads of school and their sport.

Being part of a wealthy conference like the SEC helps, Tanner said.

“That money comes from somewhere,” Tanner said. “You raise it, you generate it, you sell tickets, development, it’s real dollars. It’s great to be in the opportunity that we have to get distribution dollars from the Southeastern Conference.”

South Carolina’s projected revenues of $105.9 is more than $4 million above what it figures to have when books close at the end of the month.

A year ago, Tanner proposed $94 million in revenue, a figure that grew to $101.7 due to SEC money, according to the budget outlines presented Friday.

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