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June 19, 2012Call it the high cost of winning.
With its men's basketball program coming off its eighth NCAA title - and with its overall costs escalating - the University of Kentucky athletic department on Tuesday proposed increases in men's basketball tickets and in some donations required to purchase them.
UK's plan - approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday as part of a $91.9 million 2012-13 athletics budget - includes increases to K Fund donations and per-ticket costs.
Season-ticket holders currently donating $1,500 a year to the K Fund in order to purchase lower-level season ticket will see their annual donation increase to $1,900 per ticket. A $1,000 annual donation will increase to $1,250; a $700 donation to $850 and a $400 donation to $450.
Upper-level seats will remain without an annual donation.
Those making a $5,000 annual K Fund donation will not see a donation increase.
"Those ($5,000-level donors) really helped us last year," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said after Tuesday's athletics committee meeting. "They stepped up last year, and they - in terms of percentage increases - probably saw as much if not more than anybody else. But those are our best seats, too. They've been great supporters of ours, and we wanted to acknowledge that effort, what they gave us last year."
In addition to the K Fund donations, the price of tickets also is set to increase.
Season tickets will increase by $5 per ticket. Single-game tickets would increase from $40 per game to $45 per game in the lower level and from $35 per game to $40 per game in the upper level.
The total cost of a season ticket - not including a K Fund donation - will increase from $800 to $855 in the lower level and from $700 to $760 in the upper level. That's for a projected 19-game home schedule. Last season's home schedule had 20 games.
Single-game tickets for non-season ticket-holders will increase from $40 to $50 in the lower level and from $35 to $42 in the upper level.
In total, the increases will generate about $3.5 million in revenue, according to numbers presented to the athletics committee.
Barnhart cited multiple factors in the need for ticket-price increases, including the rising cost of tuition. When Barnhart was named UK's athletics director in 2002, he said, the total cost of athletes' tuition was between $4.2 about $4.5 million. It's now $11.7 million, Barnhart said. UK pays the full cost of tuition for all its in-state and out-of-state athletes.
Other rising costs include salary increases for coaches, including Matthew Mitchell, who last month signed seven-year contract extension worth $7.7 million plus incentives that makes him the highest-paid women's basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference.
And Barnhart called travel costs "the great unknown" as UK prepares to send its teams to two new conference destinations. Texas A&M and Missouri are joining the SEC in the upcoming school year.
"The challenge is how do you meet those rising costs and expenses, and this was one of the ways," Barnhart said. "We only have three or four areas that we can make it work, and (a basketball ticket increase) is one of them."