SBD/July 31, 2014/Colleges

UNLV AD Working Toward Sound Financial Footing After Inherting $4M Deficit

UNLV's athletic department "faces a lot of uncertainty because of outside forces," according to Mark Anderson of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The Power Five conferences are seeking greater autonomy, and "indications are they will receive it." While how that affects UNLV "is uncertain," the school is already "at a major disadvantage competing in a Mountain West that doesn't receive anywhere close to the TV revenue of the five power conferences." UNLV AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy said that when she took over the department, it "was running" a $4M deficit, and she "has found ways to reduce costs by making several personnel changes." She is now "looking for ways to increase revenue," and said that the football program will "play a big-name opponent every two years." The school will earn $1M for a '15 football game at Michigan, and similar opponents in '17 and '19 "are close to being completed." Season-ticket sales for football "are ahead of last season’s paltry pace" of "only 2,800." While no one at UNLV "was ready to start dancing over the latest figures," season-ticket sales are "in the right direction" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/30). Meanwhile, Kunzer-Murphy said that UNLV execs "hope to replace the turf playing surface" at Sam Boyd Stadium in time for the '15 football season. In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer noted the project "is estimated at $400,000-$700,000" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/30).

FRESNO'S STATE: In California, Marek Warszawski wrote, "The tidal wave of reform about to sweep across college sports will only widen the gap between Fresno State and the traditional 'haves.'" But unless there is a "sudden revenue increase or a switch in priorities, the Bulldogs also will find themselves among the 'have nots' on their own block." The school is eighth in the 12-team Mountain West in athletic revenues for '13-14, "bringing in" about $33.7M, which is "well behind" UNLV ($64.5M), New Mexico ($44.3M) and Boise State ($43.1M). Fresno State execs "spend a higher percentage of their overall budget on women's sports than any other Mountain West program." Public universities in California also "must follow stricter Title IX guidelines than those in other states, and Fresno State is on an especially tight leash because of its history of gender-equity violations." This is why the university is spending $2M on a "women's soccer/lacrosse field adjacent to Bulldog Stadium instead of, say, a training table." Schools like San Jose State, Nevada and Utah State "won't be able to afford cost-of-living stipends, either" (FRESNO BEE, 7/27).
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