Coburn updates budget deficit, hoops capacity, NCAA legislation

Florida State athletics director David Coburn spoke to the school’s Board of Trustees on Friday afternoon. Below are some updates from his presentation:

Athletics budget

Coburn said administrators have reduced the operating budget by roughly $20 million. Some expenses have hurt the bottom line, including coronavirus screening, cleaning of facilities and modifications to buildings due to the pandemic. “We’re still substantially in the red,” Coburn said.

After Thanksgiving, all out-of-season sports will be shut down. Only football and the basketball teams will be competing in games or practicing, in part due to the cost of COVID-19 testing.

While FSU officials in athletics and boosters had estimated a revenue loss due to social distancing and 25 percent capacity at Doak Campbell Stadium, Coburn said: “I was not conservative enough.”

Coburn said further reductions to the operating budget will be needed, potentially cutting into the sports’ team budgets.

Boosters’ membership

FSU recently had 13,000 boosters but that number is now down to 9,000. The goal is to get back to 13,000, new boosters CEO Michael Alford said. The Boosters launched the One Tribe campaign on Nov. 9 and want to tell the stories of FSU’s student-athletes to encourage alumni to donate or join. Fans can join the boosters for as little as $70 annually.

“There is a membership level for every price point,” BOT chairman Ed Burr said.

Basketball seating

Capacity at the Donald L. Tucker Center for basketball games will max out at 2,600, Coburn said. There will be plexiglass barriers between the crowd and benches. Fans will be required to wear masks.

‘Monetize’ facilities

FSU had scheduled Top Golf for the spring but that was canceled due to the pandemic. It has been rescheduled to begin on Feb. 11. Coburn said more than 3,000 people had signed up to hit golf balls inside Doak Campbell Stadium, so there is optimism this will deliver revenue to the athletics department in 2021.

Dick Howser Stadium has also hosted two movie nights and more could be planned.

Transfer rule

Coburn has consistently said he feels the NCAA will adopt a one-time transfer for undergrads in January 2021. The transfer portal has been valuable for FSU in recent years but this would allow a transfer to have immediate eligibility without seeking a waiver or being a graduate. “Free agency will be upon us,” Coburn said.

Name, image and likeness

Florida’s legislation to allow a college athlete to be paid for their name, image or likeness will go into effect in July. Coburn said the NCAA is still working with Congress and federal law could pre-empt Florida law.

Coburn thinks there will be an independent third-party administrator that would be informed of an athlete’s business interests, from promotion of a product to autographs, crowdfunding or instruction on their sport.

TV production

FSU’s athletics department and Seminole Productions collaborated on the behind-camera work with the FSU-Pittsburgh football broadcast for the ACC Network. Coburn said the effort went well and to expect FSU will take on more football games in the future.

Comment on this story on the Osceola’s message board