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How will athletic departments like WSU’s turn their financial situation around?

Is it even possible?

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Oregon State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good Saturday morning Coug fans. Another day, another story on the athletic department’s bank account.

USA Today published its annual list of public D-I athletic department finances yesterday. You’ll see WSU is no. 53 in the county in terms of revenue generated. That’s one spot behind Oregon State by almost $4 million. WSU is the lowest ranked school from a Power 5 conference.

WSU also made the front page of the USA Today sports section this week in a story about how athletic departments are in the hole with limited ways of digging out.

This bit stood out to me:

”(Sports Economist David Berri) sees other reasons for rosy forecasts and deficit spending in college sports. He said decision makers are spending other people’s money and have little incentive to trim costs in order to turn a “profit,” unlike regular businesses. Fiscal conservatism instead is outweighed by political pressures to keep up in big-time college sports and retain popular coaches. The same decision makers also often don’t stick around very long as they pursue better jobs, sometimes leaving town a few steps ahead of the thunderclouds”

We always hear how college sports “is a business” whenever a coach or AD leaves, but that’s about the extent to which they operate like a business, it seems.

So, how do schools like WSU figure this all out?

WSU released its strategy to get back above water about a month ago and relies on increased donations, a possible student fee and more. Time will tell if it works out.

The school eight miles to the east of WSU floated what I thought was a creative idea to generate more revenue in its athletic department.

The University of Idaho has been given a year to come up with a plan to balance its athletics budget. Some schools, like Cal, have broached the topic of eliminating sports to save money. Idaho would add three new teams:

”UI administrators have proposed to the board a concept of adding three sports – men’s swimming, women’s triathlon and rifle (a sport with both men and women on the roster). Competitors would be granted out-of-state tuition waivers but would pay in-state tuition and fees. The university would be able to count that money as athletics revenue.”

Whether something like this would work remains to be seen. I don’t know the answers to the financial problems of college sports, but something definitely needs to be done or some schools are going to be in deeper trouble.

So, got any ideas?


There once was a (brief) time where WSU basketball was the talk of the town during Hoopfest. WSU basketball players were on the coveted Hoopfest poster and autograph lines in downtown Spokane for Taylor Rochestie and Aron Baynes were a block long (slight exaggeration).

Sadly, that’s no longer the case, but WSU will still have a presence, should you find yourself in downtown Spokane today.


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