Rick George
Rick George (MICHAEL WILSON / DAILY CAMERA)

A little less than six months into his contract, University of Colorado athletic director Rick George has already earned $40,000 in bonuses, but he missed out on an even bigger payout because of poor attendance at home football games.

George's five-year contract, approved in August by the Board of Regents, includes roughly $8.5 million in potential bonuses.

The athletic director receives bonuses at the end of each semester, and while he wasn't rewarded for the Buffs winning a national championship, a $200,000 perk, he received $40,000 for the success of the men's cross country team.

George received $15,000 for that team winning the Pac-12 championship and another $25,000 for the team winning the national championship last fall.

Three cross country coaches also received bonuses for the performance of the team totaling $28,000. Coach Mark Wetmore received $20,000, assistant coach Heather Burroughs received $5,000 and assistant coach Bill Nelson received $3,000.

Another goal included in George's contract was to increase average attendance at Folsom Stadium during regular-season football games to at least 50,000.

CU missed that mark, as average regular-season football attendance came in at 38,296, according to associate athletic director Dave Plati. By contrast, that number was 45,373 in 2012.

George would have received a $50,000 bonus if football attendance had topped 50,000 in 2013.


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George says while this year's average attendance was not as high as he would have liked it to be, net revenue for tickets sold was about $9.7 million, down $200,000 from 2012 when net revenue for tickets sold was $9.9 million.

"It's closer to being flat," George said of revenue.

He said the drop in attendance is because CU issued fewer complimentary or discounted tickets this past season.

A home game against Fresno State was canceled Sept. 14 amid the massive floods, and the rescheduled game was against Charleston Southern, a member of the Big South Conference at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

Many of the bonuses in George's contract are for goals that span the entire academic year or the contract year, meaning he wouldn't be eligible for them until next spring and summer.

Other bonuses are based upon the academic success of CU teams, fundraising goals, licensing and sponsorship revenue goals and attendance at men's and women's basketball games.

CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said George's contract, like many athletic director contracts around the country, is full of incentives to help George set goals in his role and to help move the university in the right direction.

"In each of those incentives, what you see is a vital strategic goal to move athletics into its proper place, into the reputational area we want to be in," Hilliard said.

CU reviewing proposals for $142M athletic facilities plan

George said he's still getting donations for the proposed $142 million athletic facilities project approved by the regents in December. While he wouldn't say how much money has been raised so far for the project, he said he hopes by mid-March to have the $48 million needed to begin construction.

George said in early December that roughly $10 million had been pledged for the project.

"I don't know exactly what it is today," George said. "We're making great progress."

Construction for the project, which includes a roughly 173,000-square-foot addition to Folsom's northeast corner and an indoor football practice facility, cannot begin until the athletic department raises one-third of the total cost of the project in private donations.

On Jan. 14, the university issued a request for proposals. According to documents associated with the request, the university will begin conducting interviews with potential candidates during the second week of February and make a decision by Feb. 12.

Construction is anticipated to begin May 12. George said the facilities project should be completed by August 2015.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at kutas@dailycamera.com.