Athletics dept. scores inflated budget

Volunteers unload pieces of a wrecked boat from a canoe on the San Joaquin River.  This boat was one of many things removed from the river.
Photo by McClatchy Tribune. Photo illustration by Matt Weir / The Collegian

In a time of budget cuts, increased fees, and red numbers, the Fresno State athletic department has an unexpected surplus of money.

Despite previous negative projections for the 2009-2010 budget, the athletic department is now projecting an approximate surplus of $130,000. According to Martina Buckley, the associate athletics director for business operations, there are several reasons for the unexpected surplus of money in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets.

“[For the 2008-09 budget], the money received from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the NCAA totaled an approximate $228,000 increase,” Buckley said. “We also extended a contract with Learfield, which led to a $227,000 influx of revenue. There was also a non-operating savings of $264,000.”

Buckley explained the dramatic turnaround.

“The ‘08-09 budget was $25,399,631,” Buckley said. “As of December 2008 the projection indicated that we would finish $1.1 million in the red. Thus, we implemented a seven percent cut in each of our sport and unit budgets.”

Just as the 2008-09 budget finished with a surplus of money, the 2009-10 budget is expected to finish with a surplus.

Buckley said the projected surplus was due to cost-cutting measures and ticket gate revenue, among other things.

“All the sports, as far as I know, were required to cut their expenses a couple of times to meet the anticipated deficit,” Watney said in an e-mail interview.

Men’s head basketball coach Steve Cleveland confirmed that cuts were made.

“All of the athletic teams took a 15 percent cut in their operational budgets,” Cleveland said in an e-mail interview with The Collegian. “We also reduced out guarantee game budget by $62,000.”

The Fresno State athletic department, as well as Buckley, were very happy about the unexpected surplus in the 2008-09 fiscal year and the projected surplus for the ‘09-10 year.

“We were extremely satisfied that all athletic departments made the required reductions in expenses along with the additional revenues that resulted in operating surplus for the fiscal year,” Buckley said.

According to Buckley, the revised budget for 2009-10 has yet to be approved, but he estimates it will be approximately $23.6 million.

“The ‘08-09 surplus will be applied to our fund balance,” Buckley said.

Watney also has thoughts on how the money should be used.

“It should probably go into a rainy day account, just in case,” Watney said. “It would be nice to get some money back. Each sport has different needs so hopefully each coach would be asked where they would like to use the money.”
Buckley said the budget will be made available to the public in approximately a month.
“The budget will be made public once the 2008-09 financial statement is approved by the [Athletic Corporation] Board and then the university president [John Welty],” Buckley said.
The 2009-10 budget will also go through an approval process. According to Buckley, this should take place by the end of September or the beginning of October.

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