PULLMAN — Leaders of Washington State University on Friday released a plan to balance the Department of Athletics annual budget by 2023, keeping it on track to build its financial reserves and eventually retire long-term debt of more than $100 million.
The plan will be presented during the WSU Board of Regents meeting, May 6 and 7.
If approved, approximately $35.6 million in external financing would be issued as general university bonds to help cover revenue losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bonds would be repaid with future Pac-12 media and bowl revenue distributions.
Washington State will also restore the university commitment to pay the annual Pac-12 affiliation fees of $2.4 million starting in fiscal 2023, officials said.
No new student fees are being proposed in the plan.
“We are all dealing with unprecedented challenges from this global pandemic,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said in a press release. “WSU’s affiliation with a top-level intercollegiate athletics conference like the Pac-12 brings us unrivaled visibility on a national scale that continues to benefit students, faculty, staff, alumni and other stakeholders.”
State law requires public universities with intercollegiate athletics programs that experience operating deficits at the end of any fiscal year to develop deficit-reduction plans, which must be approved by their governing boards.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Department of Athletics has implemented mandatory furloughs, mandatory salary reductions and voluntary salary reductions for all coaches and staff.
“We appreciate the leadership of President Schulz and all of our campus partners as we navigate the complexities of our budget, specifically due to the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, we were on course to achieve our budget recovery plan of a balanced budget by FY2023,"' Athletic Director Pat Chun said. “This new budget proposal puts us back on that path. We are fortunate that during the pandemic we have continued to set records in our Cougar Athletic Fund and in corporate sponsorships, emblematic with our $11 million deal to name Gesa Field.”
Washington State's athletic deficit is the result of increased spending in past years for a new football operations building, renovations to Martin Stadium and other costs, coupled with lower-than-expected revenues from the Pac-12 Networks and other sources.