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Fiscal Health | Washington State University

Athletics response

Dear Staff,

In an email to campus, President Schulz outlined the financial issues facing Washington State University. He noted that as an institution we have spent more than we have taken in over the last several years, bringing our financial reserves down from about $200 million in FY13 to just under $100 million in FY17. This eroding of the university’s reserves affects the ability of the university to undertake strategic initiatives, as well as the financing of capital projects.

Last year (FY17) the university over spent by nearly $30 million. As you are aware, Athletics is a contributor to that deficit, as well as the deficits in the earlier years. Athletics had a “planned deficit” as we invested in the future of athletics over the past several years. Specifically, over the past two years we have been working with the President’s office on a recovery plan which includes both increased revenues and reduced expenses. The plan outlines having a positive annual balance by FY21. In fact, we are actually ahead of schedule from our earlier projections.

I would like to thank all of you for your commitment to continually be efficient with respect to expenditures and your efforts to increase revenues. These efforts have seen significant success. For example, the Cougar Athletic Fund has experienced terrific growth as last year we surpassed the $6 million threshold for annual giving and scholarship support. In addition, it was a record year for the sale of football season and individual game tickets.

Cougar Athletics has had a great fall sports season.

Football has posted a 9-2 record and secured its third-straight bowl game, and will play for the Pac-12 North title for the second straight year at next week’s Apple Cup. If we beat Washington we will face USC in the Pac-12 Championship game. We also saw fans show up to Martin Stadium at historic levels as capacity for the 2017 season was at 97.06 percent, the second-highest percentage in more than 30 years. Soccer reached the NCAA Championships for the fifth time in the last six years and the Cougars have advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time in school history. Volleyball is battling for an NCAA berth for the second-straight season while Cross Country fared well at the NCAA West Regional, with the men finishing seventh and the women 15th. The men will compete at the NCAA Championships this weekend while junior Vallery Korir will represent WSU as an individual. The Cougar Swim team posted impressive victories over Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara to open its season while the men’s and women’s golf teams each captured tournament titles in the fall.

We look forward to the successes of the winter and spring sports seasons as the year continues.
Challenges are not uncommon in Athletics; we face them every day in a lot of ways. With your help, we continue to position ourselves strategically so we may meet our goals in support of our core mission, which is to enhance the student-athlete experience and help them succeed both on and off the field of competition.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about our Athletics budget, feel free to ask me or our CFO Matt Kleffner. We will continue to keep you updated on our budget recovery plan. Thanks for all you do for Washington State University,

Go Cougs!

John Johnson
Interim Athletics Director