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WSU athletics has a plan to balance the budget

The department hopes to have a surplus by 2023.

USC v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

After running a budget deficit year after year and accumulating a significant amount of debt, the WSU Athletics Department is taking steps to right its fiscal wrongs. The department has developed a plan that projects a balanced budget by 2023.

The plan requires the approval of the WSU Board of Regents, who will discuss it at their Woodinville meeting June 7-8. This year, athletics is projected to spend $9.1 million more than they generate in revenue, pushing the department’s cumulative debt to $68 million.

To get into the black WSU is focusing on growing various revenue streams. The plan, which you can find here, expects funds generated from ticket sales, student fees, contributions and media rights to increase significantly between now and 2023.

WSU did note in its press release that ticket revenue is in part limited by the size of Martin Stadium. Perhaps they could again look into expanding alcohol sales at football games to make gamedays more profitable.

Contributions have steadily been on the rise since 2015 and the new budget expects that pattern to hold. Perhaps most surprising is how students fees are projected to bring in twice as much money in 2023 as they did in 2018. An increase would have to be approved by students, which they have done for the Chinook Student Center and Office of Student Media in recent elections.

On the cost side of the equation, WSU projects steady growth to coach and administrator compensation along with athletic aid. Facilities expenditures are expected to remain steady at $9.2 million annually until 2023.

If all goes as planned, the athletics department will run a $200,000 surplus five years from now, and then they can begin to repay their debt.

While the numbers do seem bad, it’s important to note that WSU’s spending doesn’t seem irresponsible in the national context. In fact, no other power five athletic department spent less money in 2016 than Wazzu.

The job won’t be an easy one for Athletic Director Pat Chun, but at least he can focus on ways to bring more money in rather than slashing the budget.



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