Deflated athletics budget forces teams to prioritize

Photo Illustration by Matt Weir / The Collegian

Feeling the pressures of the budget cuts Fresno State’s athletic department and athletic teams have been forced to re-evaluate their spending.

“Our budget is normally a little over $25 million and this year it will be somewhere a little over $23 million,” said Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh.

Boeh said the budget was reduced by $1.8 million from last year.

“It would be very challenging but we are confident that we can get through 09, 10,” Boeh said. “It is not likely that we would be able to sustain the program over the long period of time with these kinds of reductions.”

The athletic department is not doing a lot of capital improvements, and there are other things that need to be done to sustain the program in the long term, Boeh said.

“Twenty percent of everyone’s budget from the marketing budget, to the volleyball budget and the media relations budget were equally cut across the board,” Associate Athletics Director for Broadcasting and External Relations, Paul Ladwig.

According to Boeh, even with athletics generating 80 percent of their budget, the department has been in the budget cut process for more than a year from a reduction in revenues prior to the budget reductions.

“Every team’s budget was cut equally, the same amount as in percentage,” Ladwig said.

Ladwig said the Athletic Department has to get down to what is absolutely essential and make cuts in places to improve the situation.

“In the past, we would produce 30,000 schedule cards, well maybe this year we will only produce 15,000 schedule cards of that sport,” Ladwig said. “Obviously if there is a reduction in the number there is a reduction in the amount you can produce.”

According to Ladwig everyone has to work smarter when it comes to the budget. He said athletics is trying to find less expensive ways to travel, such as booking their trips using web sites like Orbitz and Hotwire to find cheaper airfare and hotel rooms.

“If it’s cheaper to bus to San Francisco or to San Jose rather than to get on an airplane , we will do those type of things,” Ladwig said.

Fresno State athletic teams plan to condense travel, according to Boeh. The department has a policy in place where most teams will play their non-conference schedules in California or other bordering states.

As the athletic department reviews the budget for each of its teams, individual coaches are prepared for the budget cuts.

“We cut back on the budget in general,” Scott Winsor, head track and field coach said. “We needed to cut back and again do our part, watch travel and what we purchase.”

Winsor said they looked at the bare essentials for running their program the best way they can under the restrictions.

“It’s like watching where you go and how much you spend and when you go for hotels. You really have to watch your pennies,” Winsor said. “It is no different than a family, you may not go out to the movie that night or you might not go golfing.”

Two items that Winsor will not cut back on are the athletes per diem, the money the athletes receive on trips for their meals, and training shoes.

“As far as getting down to the athletes themselves we are not going to take money out of their pocket on any particular trip,” Winsor said.

What’s more, the administration staff and the coaches are making sure that student athletes still get the full experience, despite budget cuts.

“As we get through the financial crisis that the state, university and our department is going through, we will be able to make it without affecting the experience for the student athletes,” Boeh said.

“Yes there is a budget cut, yes we feel it,” Ladwig said. “We are hoping we are good administrators and good coaches so that it doesn’t affect the student athlete experience.”

With all the budget cuts and the first games drawing nearer, Fresno State athletics is still hopeful for a good turnout.

“We’ll find out in the next couple weeks when the fans start coming to the games if the budget cuts have to be a damper on fan attendance,” Ladwig said.

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