As the fate of the University lies in the coming budget cuts over the next few years, speculation has arisen on campus that the Athletic Department may not be doing their share of trying to save the University funds.
The budget cuts made to the fiscal year 2010 for the athletics department total to $118,355. The majority of this total comes from a reduction in the amount that certain athletic scholarships offer to new students.
These cuts represent 2.7 percent of the athletic department’s $4.3 million in expenses in 2009. Currently, the university as a whole is facing a 5.2 percent cut from the State Appropriations Committee.
Brian Cronk, interim dean of graduate studies, feels that the athletic department should be cutting more to reflect the amount that academics has made to adjust for the next fiscal year.
“Many of the cuts and new revenues have come from the academic affairs side of the institution,” Cronk said. “Honestly, that’s a little discouraging.”
The other major area of reduction that the athletic department has made is not replacing an assistant football coach, saving the department $23,660.
While the department reduced costs by cutting the position, the athletic department decided to keep a video production position. Dave Williams, Missouri Western athletic director, said that his department has taken criticism in regards to this position.
“I feel that that position is a benefit to every department or sport, [it] is vital to where we’re going with the Kansas City Chiefs, vital to where we’re going in the future of technology,” Williams said. “Two weeks later we had a football coach leave and we’re not getting any credit for that one.”
Williams said the position is vital to public relations for the athletic department and the university as a whole.
“These are the types of things students look for on a new college,” Williams said. “When students go to our web site we want them to see technology.”
Even with these cuts, Cronk feels that Western’s athletic department still may not be cutting enough, especially with the construction of the spring sports complex and the Chiefs Facility. But the revenue brought in by the Max Experience fee can only be used for the spring sports complex and the Chiefs facility is separate from the athletic department’s budget.
There have been other areas of athletics that have increased over the years that are not associated with the Max Experience fee. According to the 2007 and 2008 Fiscal Years’ NCAA financial reports, Western’s team travel expense increased by 32 percent or $64,369.
Patsy Smith, associate athletic director, said that this increase in expense is due to higher costs in traveling, including gas and lodging. Even with these higher costs and the current economic climate at the university, special trips for football to Mesa, Colo. and men’s basketball to Las Vegas, Nev., have still continued.
“The trip to Las Vegas was paid for completely by fundraising,” Smith said.
The Athletic Department does raise money in fundraising and contributions, but 69 percent of their revenue still comes from the University or $3,045,869 according to the 2009 fiscal year NCAA financial reports.
If the Budget situation worsens over the next few years, University President Robert Vartabedian said that the university might need to resort to zero-base budgeting in regards to the Athletic Department or any other department.
“I think it comes down to priorities,” Cronk said. “Is it more important to graduate students who are more educated or to win an extra football game?”