CUPB discusses potential athletics budget deficit

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

A possible athletics deficit and steps the department is taking to fix it were brought up at a meeting of the Council on University Planning and Budgeting Friday.

As of March 31, when the budget report for athletics came out, the ending fund balance showed a deficit of $838,440.

There are currently $523,170 in expenses that still need to be paid out, but these encumbrances could still be reduced, Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs, said.

The athletics department also expects to receive about $1 million from the NCAA in the summer and to make a transfer from the Panther Club for $250,000.

There is also $68,000 of unencumbered money in the appropriated budget and other encumbrances that the athletics department is looking at for possible reductions, Athletics Director Tom Michael said.

Michael said at this point in time, when working with these encumbrances, there is a potential deficit of less than $50,000.

“In general, we anticipate being very close to breaking even,” McCann said. “There is a possibility we might be have a deficit of the year of about $50,000, (but we’re) still working to try to eliminate that.”

CUPB chair Kathlene Shank, chair of the department of special education, asked what the department has that it could cut in light of the possible $50,000 deficit.

Michael said this is what the athletics department is looking at.

Along with looking at how to reduce encumbrances, he said, it is also hoping to raise money at fundraisers such as the Spring Fling.

“We’re trying to look at every possible way to reduce and raise more money,” Michael said.

McCann said the way these encumbrances works is that at the beginning of the year, there is an estimate set of what each expense is going to be.

The university might say it is going to spend a certain amount during the year on some expenses but it might not get there, he said, meaning there will be dollars left on some encumbrance contracts.

“We will have some extra money in those line items (on the budget),” McCann said.

Michael said as everyone takes on more duties and responsibilities across the university, intercollegiate athletics is no different.

The department is about as thin operationally as it can be in different areas, though still trying to keep in mind the student-athlete experience, competitiveness and sustainability, he said.

“I want to make sure we’re providing for students at EIU,” Michael said. “At the end of the day become our best recruiters based on that experience they had. If they don’t have a good experience for whatever reason, it’s going to be difficult for them to talk up about EIU when they leave.”

From a recruiting standpoint, he said, what makes it challenging is that coaches are recruiting students earlier and the department is projecting out scholarships five or six years in advance.

Michael said when compared with peer institutions, the department was operating very thin, sometimes with a minimum amount of competitions.

“The program does not appear to operate as efficiently to lend itself to that competitiveness and recruiting as compared to our other OVC institutions,” Michael said.

What the department has tried to do as a staff is try not to let student-athletes see where and how it has cut, though it has had to work with less, Michael said.

Regarding the vitalization project recommendations for intercollegiate athletics, Michael said he and the administration are working through those.

Among the recommendations the workgroup studying athletics made was the suggestion up to five sports be eliminated.

“Those conversations are certainly ongoing,” he said. “Hopefully a decision will be made very soon.”

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