If you’ve been following Washington State Cougars athletics for a while, this will not surprise you one bit: the school is not bringing in a lot of money. The USA Today reported athletics brought in just over $71 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, nearly $11 million less than the next closest team, the Oregon State Beavers, and dead last in the Pac-12 Conference and of all the budgets in the Power Five.
The only schools in USA Today’s database are public institutions, though it’s difficult to imagine the Stanford Cardinal or USC Trojans pulled in less than Wazzu did as far as the Pac-12 goes. The Cougs’ expenses also outpaced their income by about $5 million.
None of this is really news to anyone. WSU’s athletic department has been cash poor for a very long time, especially with nearly $5 million in debt service owed on the Cougar Football Project and Football Operations Building on a yearly basis. Payouts from the conference’s TV contract did go up in 2018-2019 to $32.2 million per institution but that’s more than $20 million per school behind the Big Ten.
Barring some massive influx of donor or corporate cash athletic director Pat Chun hasn’t been able to tap in to yet, this situation won’t change soon. Things are ostensibly better under Chun as he approaches his third anniversary at the school but they’re still having issues getting the funds together for the Indoor Practice Facility despite a $2 million influx late last year. We also don’t need to tell you what a fall without football, whether fans can attend or not, would do to the school’s finances.
WSU’s funding gap issue has been a problem for decades. It’s probably not changing for quite a while.