Athletics returning annual subsidy to MU budget

The department was one of 25 major college programs to profit in 2008.

Profits from the athletics department will translate into more money for the university's general operating budget in the next few years, Chancellor Brady Deaton said.

Athletics department spokesman Chad Moller said the department will begin to return its annual $1.5 million subsidy for construction projects debt to MU's budget.

Although the athletics department is pulling in higher profits, the UM system is facing a 5.2 percent budget cut from the state in the next academic year. Moller said this decision comes in part due to the university's troubled financial state.

"This is a sacrifice that athletics is making to help the operating mission of the university as a whole," Moller said. "We're obviously going through some very challenging times, and while it creates a definite challenge for us, it is the right thing to do for the greater good."

MU's athletics department was one of 25 major college sports programs to turn a profit in 2008, according to an NCAA study. The study stated the department reached a $1.4 million profit in 2008 and a $2 million profit in the 2009 fiscal year.

Deaton said there is no specific use in mind for the money returned by the athletics department.

"It would help support our general operating budget, not earmarked for any specific item," Deaton said in an e-mail. "This provides general support for classroom teaching, improved infrastructure and other components of our operational budget."

Moller said the athletics department's decision to return the subsidy reflects the program's move toward more financial independence from the university. The department's subsidy for debt service has been cut to $1.25 million this year and will be cut to $750,000 in 2011 and eliminated by fiscal year 2012.

"I can't speak for anyone but Mizzou certainly, but from day one when (Athletics Director) Mike Alden took over, he has been very adamant about us running a fiscally-responsible operation, and I think you can directly attribute our financial security to that mindset," Moller said.

Moller said the department's solid financial state comes from a variety of sources.

"This involves being conservative in terms of spending and aggressive in seeking creative and alternative revenue sources, and we've done a pretty sound job overall in all of those areas over the years, which has allowed us to be profitable," Moller said.

Associate Athletics Director Tim Hickman said planning ahead for the recession also helped the department financially.

"When we have a high-water year like we did last year in ticket and TV revenue it contributes to a surplus," Hickman said. "We put those surpluses in our reserves to help us smooth out the peaks and valleys. This year we have budgeted to utilize some of our reserves anticipating the slower economy and expecting our giving to be down."

Moller said the timeline for the athletics department's return of the annual subsidy is not yet set.

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