The University of Minnesota athletic department recenty acknowledged its concerns about maintaining its $65 million, self-sustaining budget through the current economic crisis. As posted by the Big Ten Network, UM athletics director Joel Maturi is concerned about the pending $426 million defecit in the state’s budget this year, although the athletic department may be held harmless. He notes that while revenues may not increase, expenses will. “I think everyone in college athletics will evaluate how they spend the dollars available,” Maturi told the network. “Travel costs have increased and we will pay it. We do not get anything more for the increased expense. To balance the budget, some things have to change.”
The construction of UM’s new football stadium TCF Bank Stadium, may be affected by the economic situation — the state currently pays $10.5 million in bonds to pay off debt. However, Minnesota state reprsentative Phyllis Kahn stated that cutting this funding may hurt the state’s credit record.
Amy Perko, executive director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, told the Big Ten Network that the trend for exponential spending in athletics, including excessive buyouts of coaching contracts, is unsustainable without having a negative impact on academic resources.
The report pointed out that the university expected its athletic department to reach a $21 million deficit over five years when Maturi was hired in 2002. A proposal was considered to eliminate men’s and women’s golf teams, and men’s gymnastics but all three programs remain. However, instead the univesrity merged its men’s and women’s athletic departments.