Coach Prime part of why Colorado football, all CU athletics operated at deficit in 2023

Colorado v UCLA
Colorado v UCLA / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

As BuffZone's Brian Howell reports, Coach Prime's Colorado football head coaching contract -- not to mention the Pac-12 not paying out its member schools after Wazzu and Oregon State flexed their contractual muscles as the conference dissolved -- led to CU athletics operating at a deficit during the 2023 fiscal year.

"Lower than expected distribution from the Pac-12 Conference and the cost of a coaching change in football contributed to the University of Colorado athletics department recording a deficit of nearly $9.9 million for the 2023 fiscal year," Howell wrote. "CU also recorded record numbers for operating expenses and revenue and a dramatic increase in direct institutional support.

"In the recently published NCAA financial report for the 2023 fiscal year, CU showed a net loss of $9,086,178. The NCAA report includes some accounting differences due to definitions of certain revenues and expenses that they include which differ from CU’s actual budget. According to numbers provided by CU to, the athletic department actually operated at a loss of $9,896,846 for the 2023 fiscal year."

Coach Prime's Colorado football salary not breaking the bank for CU

Coach Prime is far from the highest-paid coach in the country. He's making under $6 million a year on average over the duration of five years. Colorado football is not the reason CU is operated at a deficit in 2023.

Really, it was Wazzu and Oregon State. The two schools operated out of spite during the Pac-12's demise, and it's hard to blame them. USC and UCLA started it, Colorado continued it, Washington and Oregon drove it home, and Arizona, ASU, Utah, Cal, and Stanford hammered the nail in the coffin. The two schools were hung out to dry and are now joining the Group of Five ranks. And to make matters worse, the Pac-2 (Wazzu, Oregon State) couldn't even make the cut for the AAC.

The "Prime Effect" and the imminent Big 12 payouts should make up for what turned out to be a surprisingly down year for CU athletics from a financial perspective.