Athletics overspending costs Eastern and students


Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

The athletic department overspent their budget by $1 million, and while the news may be a surprise to some, the consequences of the overspending are now rippling throughout Eastern.

Jonathan Blitz, a chemistry professor, gave a presentation Feb. 9 regarding the athletic budgets’ affect on the rest of the university.

“What I’ve talked about is how much athletics actually spends,” Blitz said. “Which I don’t think people generally know.”

Blitz discussed how much money is delegated to the athletic department each year.

In 2013, Eastern gave the department about $10 million to spend.

“In 2013, EIU gave to athletics in all forms – whether it be state appropriation money or student fee money, support to keep the athletics facilities going,” Blitz said.

Blitz said what the athletics department actually spent was closer to $13 million, but the department receives money from other sources.

“They get a little bit of money from people donating to the athletics department,” Blitz said. “I think they get the money from the Pepsi contract, which is over a million dollars-a-year.”

Blitz said he wanted to bring up that some people believe the athletic department is self-sustaining, when in reality, the amount of money Eastern gives to the athletic department pays for anywhere between two-thirds or three-fourths of the athletic budget.

Eastern has funded a majority of the athletic department’s budget since 2005.

Blitz also compared how much Eastern gives to the athletic department versus academic affairs.

“From 2007 to 2013, we see that the EIU subsidy to athletics and total athletics expenses has increased by about a third – about 35 percent or so,” Blitz said. “The appropriated money, that is the money that the state provides plus the money that is generated by income from student tuition and fees, has increased quite a little bit less than that, about 24 percent.”

From 2007 to 2013, academic affairs had received about a 19 percent increase in funding.  When looking at 2005 to 2013, the total increase of Eastern subsidy to athletics and total athletics expenses is 68 percent for both areas.

“The academic affairs budget has increased even less than the EIU appropriated budget, about 19 percent.” Blitz said. “So this shows that not only has Athletics outpaced all the income that comes into the university, taking a larger share of that than they had in the past.”

Blitz said academic affairs has taken less of a share of the money that comes into the school.

“This is not just EIU, this is nationwide,” Blitz said. “We’re here in a Division I school, and athletics says ‘look, if you want us to compete at Division I, we need more money’ and they get it.”

Blitz said the question now is whether Eastern should really be competing in Division I and spending all this money on the athletic resources.

“Frankly, we’re in trouble financially at this point,” Blitz said. “Can we really continue to afford this?”

Blitz said the athletic budget will be overspent again this year, but the amount is currently unknown.

In order to handle the current budget situation, measures have to be taken. Some have said that Eastern should no longer be a Division I school, which Blitz said some faculty members agree with.

“My preferred mention would be to take away all of their appropriated funds and cut their budget,” Blitz said “Let them decided what to do with it.”

Blitz said while it is not his place to dictate what the athletic department should do, he does believe they should be penalized for overspending their budget.

“They are not being penalized for it,” Blitz said. “Their budget ought to be cut.”

The athletic department has typically run themselves, Blitz said.

“They don’t tell anybody anything,” Blitz said. “We didn’t know, the university community, did not know that athletics overspent their budget by $400,000 a couple years ago and by $1 million last year until just a month or two ago, it was all hidden.”

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].