As college football TV deals grow, ticket sales slow

Consider: At UT and most big-time football programs in the SEC and elsewhere, the opportunity to buy season tickets comes with a premium. A season ticket to seven home games this year runs you $360. But you’ve got to write a check before you even get in line to purchase the tickets.

For example, if you want to buy two season tickets in the prime midfield seating at Neyland Stadium, a $5,000 donation is required. For smaller donations, season tickets can be purchased in other sections of the stadium.

It adds up quickly. Donations accounted for more than $30 million of UT’s 2009-10 athletics budget of $102.45 million. While a few high rollers forked over donations with no strings attached, much of the money was tied to season-ticket purchases.