Athletic department budget to double in five years

Associated Press

Associated Press

The athletic program budget at South Dakota State University is expected to almost double in the next five years as the school moves to NCAA Division I.

The athletic department at the Brookings school earned about $4.8 million and spent more than $4.8 million in 2003-04, the university’s last school year in Division II.

When SDSU becomes a full member of NCAA Division I in the 2008-09 school year, administrators expect the department will earn more than $8 million and spend almost $7.7 million.

The added expenses are expected to cover cost such as more travel, scholarships and higher coaches salaries.

But the figure also includes about $1 million more than what was projected a year ago when planning began for the Division I switch to pay for compliance with Title IX.

The state Board of Regents is working to make all state universities Title IX compliant. At SDSU, that means a three-year, $3.96 million effort that includes the addition of women’s equestrian.

The extra money needed to pay for Title IX will come from continued growth in the student population, small increases in existing fees and a new Title IX fee to be assessed at all public universities, university officials said.

At SDSU, the fee is expected to generate $331,750 in three years beginning this year, said Fred Oien, SDSU’s athletic director. Also, 3 percent annual growth in fees due to inflation and expected increases in enrollment should increase revenue from students, he said.

As the costs of moving to Division I go up, some critics of the change fear SDSU eventually will ask students or the state for money to help cover the budget.

“I still feel strongly that they’re going to end up going to the state government for money for their sports program, even though they say they’re not going to at this time,” said state Sen. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, an SDSU alum.

“I’m just concerned with them coming to the state for tax dollars and raising student fees for any shortcomings of this move to Division I.”

SDSU officials don’t think that will happen in part because of a projected increase in enrollment.

In 2008-09 student fees are expected to account for 22 percent of SDSU’s athletics budget. Student fees funded 26 percent of last year’s budget. This fall, enrollment at SDSU rose to 10,954 and by 2009, officials expect enrollment to reach at least 12,000 students.

The athletic department and the SDSU Foundation launched a “Lifelong Champions” campaign in January with a goal of raising $20 million by 2009 to help pay for costs incurred as part of the Division I switch.

During the first 11 months of the campaign, the school has raised $4.7 million.

University officials remain confident the school will meet its goals.

“When we ran all our cost projections, it was essentially worst case,” said Mike Reger, SDSU’s executive vice president for administration. “Having done it that way, I’m pretty confident that there’s no question that we can get this done.”