MO State HS Sports

Is Mizzou’s baseball program in need of more financial help?

Mizzou baseball is still trying to dig itself out of the bottom of the SEC standings.

As the season enters its final month, the Tigers are in danger of missing out on the SEC tournament for the third straight year, after falling victim to a sweep of No. 4 Florida over the weekend. They are now 24-19 overall and 5-16 in the SEC, tied for last in the standings with Ole Miss, their next conference opponent.

One wonders what needs to change in order for Mizzou to reverse its luck.

It’s already tough for the Tigers to compete in a dominant baseball conference like the SEC, a league chock full of Top 25 national programs year after year. But the resources Mizzou’ program seems to receive compared to its conference peers have built an even tougher barrier to break.

A compilation of nearly all NCAA Division I baseball budgets – taken from the U.S. Department of Education’s EADA database – shows that Mizzou ranked last in the SEC on total program expenses during the last fiscal year (2022), spending just over $2.5 million.

Not only did Mizzou finish at the bottom, but compared to the conference’s average budget per baseball team (about $5.7 million), Mizzou spent only 45% of the conference average on its baseball program, which was the sixth-lowest percentage in the country.

So even though the SEC is known as the toughest baseball conference to compete in, couldn’t Mizzou try spending like a competitor?

Taking a closer look, Mizzou’s lower spending has hurt them in some key areas. Every NCAA athletic department gives a report on its revenues and expenses each fiscal year. We looked at Mizzou’s report – which was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch –  and compared it to five other SEC schools (Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee) from FY22 to see which areas Mizzou’s spending might fall short.

Here are the spending numbers for each of those programs in the areas of coaches salaries, recruiting, and team travel:

Head Coach Salary:

Ole Miss: $2,032,521
Tennessee: $1,965,795
Arkansas: $1,608,788
LSU: $1,459,052
Georgia: $755,714
Mizzou: $545,341

Assistant Coaches Combined Salary:

LSU: $961,983
Tennessee: $820,285
Arkansas: $757,894
Ole Miss: $703,862
Georgia: $638,658
Mizzou: $241,729


Tennessee: $121,709
LSU: $106,358
Arkansas: $97,943
Georgia: $92,917
Ole Miss: $80,958
Mizzou: $46,027

Team Travel:

Arkansas: $1,334,335
Ole Miss: $930,743
Tennessee: $877,576
LSU: $814,031
Mizzou: $488,811
Georgia: $386,535

With Mizzou falling short in the coaches’ salary game, it can be tough to not only attract the best coaches, but also keep them around when they succeed. In the recruiting game, Mizzou’s spending suggests they had less of an ability to lure in talented players for their program. And for a team that usually has to rely on player development to overachieve expectations, cutting the travel budget to fly commercial for road games instead of charter can take up valuable practice time.

On top of all of that, Mizzou’s facility may be falling behind the game, too. Taylor Stadium, which opened in 2002, last saw a major renovation in 2014. Nine other SEC schools (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt) have either built a brand-new stadium or renovated their existing one since Mizzou’s last renovation.

Of course, there will always be obstacles to Mizzou’s ability to compete in the SEC, mainly tied to geography. The Tigers are forced to play fewer home games and travel further solely because they’re in a colder climate than most SEC teams. Not much can be done about that.

However, what can be done is an investment in the program that can make up for that disadvantage. And by no means does that require Mizzou to be at the top of the conference’s spending charts. The SEC brought nine of its 14 teams to the NCAA regionals last year. All Mizzou needs to do is come a little bit closer to the middle of the SEC, and they can be in the hunt for a postseason bid. By upping the program’s game in facilities, recruiting, etc., Mizzou might get that slight push it needs to compete with the best of the best in college baseball.

And while this season is shaping up to look a lot like the last few, Mizzou still has an outside shot at turning things around. The Tigers’ nine remaining conference games are all against sub-.500 teams, and six of them are at home. A strong finish to the season could lift them out of the cellar and into the conference tournament for the first time since 2019. With the awful health luck their pitching staff has experienced, there’s still a chance this season could be progress from the prior two years. Steve Bieser has had some rough years as the program’s head coach, but with what he’s done to give the team a slight chance, the struggles may be more due to the lack of tools at his disposal. It seems that not many coaches can succeed in the current state of Mizzou’s baseball program.

In the end, it all comes down to expectations. If you expect Mizzou to always finish near the bottom of the conference standings and struggle to make it to Hoover every year, then the current investment in the program is just fine. But if you’re wanting more, then that investment has to go up in order for Mizzou’s program to have the resources it needs to survive a brutal SEC environment. Right now, it’s clearly not enough.

For more on this, listen to KTGR’s discussions on The Big Show: