Washington State University announced today that its athletics budget will be balanced in 5 years. This plan will be presented to the WSU Board of Regents on Friday, June 8 by Athletic Director Pat Chun and Chief University Budget Officer Joan King.
The effort relies on increasing revenue 27 percent by Fiscal Year 2023 while continuing to contain expenses. This approach will slow the rate of debt accumulation over the first 4 years, which is expected to reach a projected total of up to $85.1 million by FY 2022. Plans call for the program to achieve a balanced budget by FY 2023 with an anticipated $200,000 surplus.
The athletics department is committed to first getting its budget balanced, then building up reserves and finally repaying central reserves.
“We are not here to make excuses,” said Chun. “We are here to move forward, take fiscal responsibility and provide a world-class student-athlete experience.”
Detailed financial information about the department and its budget strategy can be found at https://regents.wsu.edu/meeting-dates/.
Under a new state law, public colleges and universities with intercollegiate athletics programs that experience operating deficits at the end of any fiscal year must develop deficit-reduction plans. Those plans must be approved by the college or university governing boards, which also will be required to approve any expenditures or budget transfers exceeding $250,000. Additionally, the plans, along with financial statements from the three prior fiscal years, must be conspicuously posted and publicly accessible.
WSU athletics already has the lowest annual operating expenses of any athletics program in the Pac-12 and consistently spends less than any other program in a Power 5 conference.
Much of WSU’s athletics debt is connected to investments made in improved facilities over the past several years, including a $61 million football complex. During the same time, though, institutional support began decreasing as the University struggled with the national economic downturn.
Chun noted that encouraging signs are returning.
Contributions to the Cougar Athletic Fund reached record levels this fiscal year, currently at $6.4 million and climbing. Ticket sales for WSU football also are setting records but continued growth is constrained by having the smallest stadium capacity in the Pac-12.
The department also is pursuing several other strategies for boosting revenue that will be finalized in the near future.