Not only did the University of Connecticut lose the New Year’s Day Fiesta Bowl, but the cost of appearing in the game burned a $1.8 million hole in the pocket of the school’s athletic department, the Daily Campus reported Wednesday.
According to financial records from the Fiesta Bowl, UConn incurred $4.3 million in expenses, while receiving a payout from the Big East of $2.5 million for making it to the prestigious Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game against Oklahoma.
The largest burden for the school was ticket costs, as the athletic department was forced to absorb a nearly $3 million charge for unused tickets. The Fiesta Bowl allotted UConn 17,500 tickets, but the athletic department only sold 2,771 of them and had to pay for the rest.
In addition, the cost of traveling to Glendale, Ariz.., for the game totaled $685,195, while UConn also spent a total of $460,941 on meals and lodging for the team, administrators, cheerleaders and the band.
The school has not commented on the financial loss, but in a survey submitted to the NCAA after the game made mention of its difficulty selling tickets.
"We recognize the total ticket commitment associated with this BCS bowl game, but selling 17,500 tickets is a challenge for a school from the east whose fans incur significant travel expenses," the athletic department wrote in the NCAA survey.
It is not the first time a school has suffered financially after making it to a BCS bowl game, but it is one of the largest losses on record.
In 2009, Virginia Tech took a $2.2 million hit after playing in the Orange Bowl in Miami. The last Big East team to appear in the Fiesta Bowl was West Virginia, which lost about $1 million in 2008.
West Virginia received the same 17,500-ticket allotment for the game, but was able to sell more than three times as many tickets as UConn.
The Big East-winning Huskies lost the game to Oklahoma 48-20, and soon after head coach Randy Edsall announced he was leaving for the University of Maryland.