Close to the edge

Times seemed so good for Nevada.  A landmark win over Boise State to cap a ranked season and a move to the Mountain West all indicated a program on the upswing.

Not so fast, my friends.

The Nevada athletic department is bracing for a $1.5 million cut in state-appropriated funds, a move Wolf Pack athletic director Cary Groth said would “change the face of the department.”

The cuts, which are part of a proposed $59 million university-wide budget reduction at UNR, could threaten Nevada’s ability to maintain Division I status or force the department to cut another sport. The reduction is contingent on the state legislature’s final higher education budget and board of regents deliberations.

“I would say maintaining the integrity of a Division I program is our main focus right now,” Groth said. “We’re right on the line of a few things as is.”

You don’t hear an athletic director say that very often.

Groth doesn’t have a lot of attractive options, either.

… The easiest way for Nevada to find some extra money, aside from cuts to the athletic department staff, would be to reduce scholarships or cut sports. There are problems with that plan, though. First off, the school already cut its ski team in 2010, and it’s at the Division I minimum of six men’s sports already. Which means that whatever sport was cut, it would have to be one of the eight women’s teams, which would cause a problem with Title IX.

As for scholarships, in order to maintain Division I status, a school must award $4 million annually in scholarships. Nevada currently hands out $4.6 million…

Just something for the pay-the-players crowd to keep in mind.  A lot of smaller programs have more serious concerns to deal with.

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23 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

23 responses to “Close to the edge

  1. Wonderful-Ohio-on-the-Gulf Dog

    How much is the Nevada state subsidy of UNVR’s athletics program? This problem is triggered by a $1.5 Million cut in state-appropriated funds.

    How many other public schools’ athletics programs recieve taxpayer subsidies?

    Shouldn’t college sports stand on their own financial legs, even if some schools drop down a division or two?

  2. Most athletic departments are not like that of UGA which is separate and independent financially from the university. It is likely Nevada is one of those financially dependent.

  3. baltimore dawg

    ah, the old zombie idea (that just can’t be killed) that athletic departments are self-supporting profit centers. there are only a dozen or fewer departments year-in, year-out that clear revenue. period. where there is a gap between revenue and expenditures the difference is made up by general funds, which is a combination of all unrestricted revenue sources (tuition, fees, state appropriations, etc.). it’s not just the nevadas of the world–it’s also the likes of the cals, the indianas, and the clemsons.

    • Stoopnagle

      Of course, if institutions reigned rained reined what? nevermind.

      If institutions re-directed money from (exorbitant) AD and coaches’ salaries to stipends for student-athletes, they might not be running in the red.

      Should the AD at Nevada be making as much as the AD at UNC? (In ’09, it appears their salaries were within 10K dollars of each other, while the athletic budgets were very different).

      • W Cobb Dawg

        Not sure what the AD’s salary should be. But by beating BSU, the football coach earned his pay.

        But if Nevada would field a lousier team and be willing to travel, there’s no shortage of sec teams who’ll give them a big payday to be a patsy.

        • Stoopnagle

          “Earned” his pay is one thing, but if the ath. dept. in question doesn’t have the money why should that matter? I’m earning my pay, but my salary has been stagnant for what? 3 years now? I don’t see why a football coach who doesn’t really contribute anything to the primary mission of the institution should be exempt from the recession. His activities/success aren’t covering the bills, they’re creating them.

    • Wonderful-Ohio-on-the-Gulf Dog

      Surprised that colleges’ need for general fund support of sports is as broad as you say, especially at Clemson and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Indiana. Not so suprised at UCals.

      If college sports departments don’t pay their own way except in a few programs, then politicians, college administerators, professors, taxpayers, etc. really OUGHT to have a greater say-so in their running. Sometimes it takes financial hard times in statehouses to bring this stuff to a head.

      This tells me D-1 is long overdue in a major restructuring (downsizing). FBS, especially.

      Fewer FBS teams would make some sort of play-off more feasible as well.

      Otherwise, the NFL (and the CFL to a lesser extent) really ought to be subsidizing college football financially, rather than the taxpayers.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        Don’t forget all those student fees. I was really surprised last year when KSU’s (not Kansas State) students voted to allow student fees for the creation of a football program, particularly in the current economy. Add the fact that the school is at least 75% female. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that vote was rigged.

        • Wonderful-Ohio-on-the-Gulf Dog

          Other than affording then-budding and rank amateur politicos the forum to do what politicians do best (self-aggrandize with other people’s money), student fees didn’t amount to much when I was at UGA long, long ago.

          So I didn’t count student fees much towards athletics department support. Maybe it’s a lot different now, though.

          • Stoopnagle

            First, I think you have to take UGA out of the equation. Kennesaw is never going to raise $20 million + in annual giving after a losing season like UGA just did. And neither are the vast majority of D-1 schools out there.

            Second, the student vote at KSU was probably something like 5-10% of the student population. And, you wonder how all of those football advocates are going to feel now that HOPE isn’t going to cover their fees (nor, for the most part, all of their tuition).

      • baltimore dawg

        some schools paper over the fact that they consistently rely on non self-support revenue by increasing mandatory auxiliary fees on enrolled students–if it’s an “athletic fee,” then it is collected for a specific purpose, and in the accounting stucture of higher ed is not strictly “general funds.” uga collects mandatory athletic fees from enrolled students, but that money is used to recover the costs of reduced or free student admission to games and such. that’s totally legit. but schools that support their athletic depts through general funds (which, again, is almost all of them) use such ever-increasing mandatory fees to help cover the gap between athletic revenues and expenditures. that’s quite a different matter: those schools are mugging their students (sometimes for hundreds of dollars a term) when they enroll so that their presidents can piously proclaim that intercollegiate athletics must be reformed.

        blame the presidents. they believe in athletic “pixie dust.”

        • Wonderful-Ohio-on-the-Gulf Dog

          Yes, UGA collected athletic fees back in the day, but it was, maybe, a couple of dollars a quarter.

          • baltimore dawg

            uga collects a mandatory athletic fee now, i belive. it’s about $50 a semester i think (too lazy to look it up). modest and justified, as i said.

            but there are many schools that charge students $200, $300, or more every term. it’s a giant portion of athletic revenue, and those schools couldn’t run sports otherwise. i wonder how much of its tournament payout vcu is going to return to the students who foot the bill for athletics there in the first place?

            • Stoopnagle

              That’s right. Here are fees for this spring:

              Transportation: $103
              Activity/Recreation: $89
              Athletic: $53
              Health: $191
              Facilities: $80
              Technology: $114
              Green: $3
              Institutional*: $200

              At my undergraduate institution, where football at the 1-AA level was just resurrected after a 20 year hiatus, the student fee approved by less than 15% of students is $8.75 per credit hour, or $131.25 for a full academic load. That might not seem like a lot, but if you are Pell eligible as I was, it is a lot. Every extra amount is a lot. Thankfully, they axed football the year before I arrived. Unlike UGA, my alma mater is what one could call an “access” institution: it’s local, modest and meant to be a practical choice for folks who can’t afford to go 200 miles from home. It’s an abdication of that mission to have a money suck like football.

  4. Bad M

    Regarding the pay for play’ers:
    I don’t think paying these bad kids a couple of hundred dollars is going to stop them from taking bags of cash. Weird thing about money. There is never enough for some (most) people. Weird thing about crooks. Will always be. Would solve nuh-thing.

    • Regular Guy

      Agree 100%. I consider myself financially responsible (bills always paid on time, high FICO score, etc), but I sure as hell wasn’t in college, and had the large credit card bill to prove it. Whatever stipend you give players, they’d still end up overspending or whatnot, and being in situations where taking some cash from illicit sources would be very appealing. And the more of a stipend you give them, the more they’ll spend/waste the money, and still be looking for ways to get more. That’s not a knock on football players or athletes, that’s with nearly any 18-22 year old. Outside of a very small percentage of kids that age, by far the majority have no clue how to manage money, so a stipend wouldn’t solve anything.

  5. Stoopnagle

    Also, jive the idea of paying players with student athletic fees. The MAC relies heavily on “institutional” support for athletics funded mainly by student fees. Typically, there’s no opting out of the fee on the part of students, so it’s hardly a choice (outside of choosing to go somewhere without athletics).

  6. DawgPhan

    Exactly…the pay the player people have no idea about the budgets of these schools…Most can’t afford to play the sports now, much less if they had to start paying another 100+ students each semester.

    The strange thing is how pay the player people some how also reconcile that with more access to championship playoff talk. Paying the players would simply create more of an advantage for the big schools.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      “Paying the players would simply create more of an advantage for the big schools.”

      Or the crooked ones. Sadly, it worked for awburn.