The proposed Bowling Green State University Athletics budget for 2011 is $16 million — 9.32 percent larger than last year — but the additional funds still will not cover the projected $16.2 million in expenses.
To close that gap as much as possible, Athletics depends on ticket sales, donors, Title IX and merchandising. But nearly two-thirds of the Athletics budget consists of student fees.
For 2011, students’ general fees are projected to be $683 per semester, according to the BGSU Finance and Administration Department.
Half of that money is allocated to facilities (such as the Bowen-Thompson Student Union), Student Health Service and shuttle services. The other half goes toward Intercollegiate Athletics.
Including employee benefits, total salary expenses for personnel are projected to be $6.3 million in 2011, a 2.55 percent increase from last year, according to the budget. Operating expenses are expected to be about $9.8 million, a 6.77 percent increase.
“You don’t generate that (much money) in ticket sales,” said Jim Elsasser, associate athletic director for Internal Affairs.
Most of what student fees cover are athletic scholarships, including tuition, room and board and meal plan for a majority of the student athletes, said Greg Christopher, director of Athletics.
“In general terms, we get about $9 million a year (from student fees),” Christopher said. “About $6 million goes back to the university, and the largest form of that is scholarships.”
The other $3 million Athletics gets from student fees is used to pay for staff members, coaches, travel costs and some operating costs, such as “to keep the lights on in the building,” Christopher said.
But Christopher said most student-fee money is used to pay for salaries and scholarships, and the budget does include $9 million not dependent on student fees.
Elsasser said most Mid-American Conference schools are funded the same way.
“None of our sports make any money,” he said. “And that would be the case for 90 percent of Division I institutions.”
But Elsasser said BGSU uses less student-fee money to run its sports teams than most other schools.
And while student fees make up a majority of the athletic budget, those fees can’t pay for the entire budget because the amount of money generated from students fluctuates each year.
“The general fee is only driven by enrollment,” Elsasser said. “So that requires us to look at alternate sources.”
Kerrie Beach, head coach for BGSU women’s gymnastics, has an annual budget of about $38,000, but she spends about $50,000. Like many other teams at BGSU, Beach and her team fundraise to make up the difference, looking mostly to donors.
“We’re a non-revenue sport,” she said. “We realize that we are not going to bring in thousands of dollars.
“It’s not that I feel like the administration isn’t giving me the support I need. … But it’s always a close call for us, we’re always working hard to get through the year.”
The expectation is that budget cuts will balance out the deficit, Elsasser said, but not enough cuts have been made to make up for the loss.
“We carry a deficit balance from year to year,” he said.
Last year, total expenses surpassed total revenue by $740,202, according to the budget. Next year, Athletics is expected to lose about $155, 980.
And while Athletics does generate money from selling tickets, ticket sales are only projected to bring in $1.5 million of the $16 million budget next year. Not every seat is filled at every game, and not every sport sells tickets, such as soccer and baseball.
“Some of the (sport) facilities aren’t conducive (to selling tickets) … there’s no exterior gate,” Elsasser said. “We just thought it would be better to have an open environment, encourage people to come in.”
Another way Athletics brings in money is through game guarantees. For example, last year, the University of Michigan paid BGSU $800,000 to play one football game in Michigan.
Typically, Elsasser said, BGSU has one game guarantee per year. The game guarantee for 2011 will bring in a projected $1.2 million.