The pandemic was tough on college sports budgets, and South Carolina detailed exactly how bad it was financially. And it could have been worse except for financial help from the SEC.

University of South Carolina Athletics will conclude the 2020-21 academic year with a budget deficit of approximately $27 million, because of the impacts of the pandemic, the school reported. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Athletics Department under Athletics Director Ray Tanner had never finished a budget year with a deficit.

The primary reasons for the deficit were a reduction of seating capacity for home football games at Williams-Brice Stadium and associated costs of COVID testing for student-athletes, coaches, and staff during the academic year.

The athletics department cut costs through furloughs, voluntary salary cuts of highest salaried employees, reduction in operating costs and hiring freezes.

“I commend our coaches and staff for their ability to work under trying circumstances and continue to give our student-athletes a positive experience this past year,” Tanner said in a statement. “Our medical team and training staff did an outstanding job of keeping our student-athletes healthy and safe and meeting all of the COVID protocols as specified by the DHEC, CDC, the SEC and our University.”

The athletics department benefited from a one-time $23 million supplemental revenue distribution from the SEC. The SEC used future increases in media rights revenue to facilitate the supplemental revenue distribution. The distribution from the SEC cut the athletics department deficit to $27 million.

Additional shortfalls will be covered by the University until the athletics department is able to return to its self-supporting status in 2022-23. Payments back to the University would begin during the 2024-25 fiscal year.