Athletics, academic profit-loss sheets cause concerns

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

Though profit loss sheet data is now available on the vitalization project’s webpage, there are still concerns on differences between the data for intercollegiate athletics and academic programs.

On the intercollegiate athletics profit and loss sheets, the tuition, student fee and housing and dining revenue is counted as income athletics brings to the university.

Philosophy professor Grant Sterling pointed out that the only income counted for the university from academic programs is student tuition.

Profit-loss sheets look at the cost efficiency of different programs on campus and were put up on the webpage online under a “data” tab to assist Workgroups.

Sterling said since student fees are earmarked for specific purposes, nobody should get credit for this revenue except for the programs the fees are being used in.

“It seems to me more reasonable to say tuition and housing don’t count as income to anyone,” Sterling said.

In profit loss sheets for intercollegiate athletics from 2015, they claimed $4,185,756 in tuition, $1,217,773 in fees and $2,278,592 in housing and dining to get $7,682,121 as their total revenue.

When this was added to their $7,017,767 expenditure, intercollegiate athletics came out with a profit of $664,354.

Without adding in tuition, fees, housing and dining as revenue, athletics would have had this expense of $7,017,767 on their profit loss sheet.

Jon Blitz, president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, showed these numbers in a presentation to the Faculty Senate.

He argued that if academic departments used the same model intercollegiate athletics did, it would look like academic programs were making money as well.

“Athletics was $7 million in the hole,” Blitz said. “To be in the black, they counted $4 million in tuition, (but) athletics doesn’t generate tuition.”

Blitz’s fear is is that if more resources are given to athletics because it looks like it is raising money, it will come out of everyone else’s budgets.

In intercollegiate athletics, the profit loss sheets were calculated by business affairs.

Paul McCann interim vice president for business affairs, said athletics is spread in so many different places that there is not just one place to look when doing an annual audit of intercollegiate athletics.

“We identify all the various sports and we allocate costs, or specifically identify costs, associated with each of those sports,” McCann said.

He said there are costs related to intercollegiate athletics.

“Uniforms, umpires, officials, maintaining field, so you got the cost of doing the activity. You also have scholarships that you pay out,”McCann said.

However, McCann said, these athletes are also generating revenue for the university.

McCann said this revenue, including student fees and housing and dining, with a bulk of the money coming from tuition, is part of the income athletes produce.

“If the issue is that we want to adjust athletics, you have to consider what they’re bringing to the table,” McCann said. “And they’re bringing a significant amount of income to the university.”

They did not put in housing revenue for academic departments, McCann said, because they do not have anything to do with housing, but athletics does provide housing for many athletes.

The numbers business affairs used are from the university’s accounting system.

“What we did was we pulled together what we thought was reasonable for them to start with,” McCann said. “We think it’s a reasonable look.”

However, Sterling said this made it look as if intercollegiate athletics play by one set of rules, and all the other programs play by a different set.

Candace Flatt, a budget analyst who works in the Office of Academic Affairs, said she used several sources from student data, and financial aid that fed through accounts receivable to calculate the data for academic programs.

The only funds she used were from Ledger One, which is from student tuition and state appropriations.

The expenditure data comes from personal services, such as faculty payroll, student expenses, operating expenses, capital expense and summer school.

The revenue used was from fall, spring and summer tuition as determined by a student’s billable hours and collected from the tuition amounts by the department associated with the courses.

These billable hours were also used to allocate scholarships, waivers and the department spending by student, by course.

Scholarships in academic programs are looked as an expenditure in Banner. Some scholarships are ledger one, some are not.

Flatt did not count scholarships on different ledgers.

She said since these sorts of university expenses are different for everybody, they go through accounts receivable.

When looking at expenditures, Flatt looked at the fiscal year, which ends in July. When looking at tuition, she looked at the academic year, which starts in September.

She said this was not aligned, so she took expenditures and shifted it over. Expenditures were then adjusted to reflect an academic year to match tuition.

A database was then created with 438,317 records and 56 fields that detailed the expense and income brought by a student based on these billable hours from Fall 2011 Spring 2016.

This database also included whether or not the department was associated with a student’s major, the department associated with the course and whether or not the course was continuing education.

Flatt looked at these numbers of billable hours, looked at the costs associated with them, then allocated piece of the expenditure to each student, before looking at the total spending by the department.

When doing this, Flatt considered the fact that when a student take a class that is not form their major which might have different expenditure, so they would pick up a piece of the different major’s expenditures.

Though academic programs also have people donating money to them, they do not get the credit because it is not included in Ledger One money, Sterling said.

Sterling said even if one set of spreadsheets were done by one person, and the other was done by a different person, the administration still has the responsibility to assign the tasks in a way that makes sense.

To rectify this, they could have had someone look over it before it was released, he said.

“What should really be done is giving academic programs credit for the revenue they generate, and (not giving) intercollegiate athletics credit for things not in intercollegiate athletics,” he said.

Though people can argue students are brought to Eastern because of a certain sport Sterling said other athletes come to Eastern regardless.

“Even if they say the student’s at EIU only because EIU has (that sport,) nevertheless, by paying tuition the university is required to provide that many credit hours worth of classes. The money isn’t pure income to the university, the income is payment for a service,” Sterling said.

Sterling’s fear now is that the Workgroups that look at the academic programs will look at data that could be misleading.

“It makes it look as if various departments on campus are losing money, when some of them are not losing money,” Sterling said. “Some of them are making money, others are losing not as much as it appears because the accounting is done wrong.”

If during the vitalization project, Workgroups look at this data,Blitz said,  academic programs are at a disadvantage if they do not use the same criteria in the profit loss sheets as intercollegiate athletics.

Sterling said if Workgroups make decisions based on this data, they will recommend cuts in various programs because it looks as if some programs are losing more money than they actually are.

On the flip side, if a program such as intercollegiate athletics looks like it is making money, it is less likely there will be cuts to it, Sterling said.

Because of this, Blitz’s concern is that if more resources are given to athletics because it looks like it is raising money, it will come out of everyone else’s budgets.

Sterling admits some people get the idea that he is “out to get” athletics, it is not just him who has issues with this data.

Faculty members came up unsolicited to ask what about the data, and why is this being counted here not here,” Sterling said, adding that these problems also came up at the Faculty Senate’s budget transparency committee meeting.

Flatt said this data has been checked “a hundred” times and been reviewed by the administrations.

“There have been several iterations. They would find something, say oh, that looks kind of funny, can you look that up?” she said. “And I’d (check it) and say that’s right, or ‘there’s a formula error.”

The business office also did their own independent analysis and came close to the conclusion Flatt did, even when using different assumptions, she said.

Flatt said the university does not expect every single department is going to make a profit.

“If we were at an equilibrium, everybody (would be) at a little bit of a loss,” she said.

McCann said every unit costs money, but this does not mean the program is eliminated.

However, Flatt said the university still has to survive.

“If you are in an academic area that just by design generates a loss, try to minimize that loss, if you’re a department that by your dynamics generates a profit, try to maximize it,” Flatt said. “That’s the general idea. Not every department has to be a money maker, higher education is not set up that way.”

Generally, Flatt said in her opinion, people do a good job of this.

“(People generally) want what’s best for the university,” she said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]