According to a recent report issued by the State of Oregon’s Board of Education finance committee, the athletic departments at the University of Oregon (UO) and at Oregon State University (OSU) had financial deficits in the 2008-2009 fiscal year: OSU with a $5.9 million deficit, and the UO with a $642,000 deficit. Other state colleges in Oregon reported positive financial balances for their athletics programs.
The Oregonian stated that State Board policy requires universities to keep their ending balances positive, and may ask administrators from each university to come up with a plan to bring their budgets (current assets minus liabilities) into the black. The paper noted that a four-year plan by OSU to erase its deficit fell up short because of a 20 percent reduction in donations and a delay to this year in reporting of $1.9 million in pledged contributions. And, UO also attributed its negative ending balance last year to the recession and problems collecting on $2.2 million in pledged donations. Both schools expect to collect pledges on time this year, but that still will leave OSU with a $4 million deficit in its ending balance. The university expects to remain about that deep in the red until 2012, when it should get a boost in television revenue as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference, he said.
Todd Stansbury, executive associate athletic director at OSU, stated “Fund raising ends up being key in our success in balancing the budget, but also the one (factor) most affected by the economy.”
Both universities are hopeful to gain more revenue from a more lucrative television deal in 2012 through the Pacific-10 Conference. According to Mark McCambridge, vice president for finance at OSU, new TV contracts should give provide an additional $4 million to $12 million which will put OSU on stable, positive financial footing. If the additional television revenue doesn’t come through, McCambridge said, the university may need to look at cutting some minor sports to keep a positive ending balance.
The paper noted that while football is the most expensive sport for universities, it also brings in the bulk of their revenue – 80 percent for OSU. In addition, the share of Oregon college sports programs supported through university general fund subsidies ranges from 7.5 percent at Oregon State to 53 percent at Western.