|« Rain can't dampen Aggies' spirits||Five questions on William and Mary »|
Braddy says JSU needs $500,000 to save some sports
Jackson State might be forced to drop some sports if the athletic department’s financial situation does not improve, administrators say.
Offering 18 intercollegiate sports on a $6.5 million budget, the department is scraping to get through the 2008-09 fiscal year that ends June 30. If more money is not raised through donations and sponsorships, JSU might have to eliminate two or three sports, athletic director Bob Braddy said.
Braddy said the department needs to raise $500,000 by June to feel secure going into the 2009-10 school year.
Jackson State president Ronald Mason said he won’t slash budgets of individual sports in order to keep all 18 programs. JSU has won the Southwestern Athletic Conference All-Sports competition two years running and a large crystal vase signifying those successes sits in the lobby of Mason’s office. He said he would rather maintain success in fewer sports than fall to mediocrity in others by cutting the recruiting budget or other needs.
About half of JSU’s $6.5 million budget comes from student fees and general funds. Ticket sales and corporate sponsorships pay most of the rest, but both of those sources are down in the current economic climate. JSU season football ticket sales dropped from 5,500 in 2007 to 3,500 in 2008.
JSU is turning to alumni and fans to help offset the losses, creating the “Developing Champions” fundraising program. The goal is to raise a total of $3 million through a variety of options, ranging from a $500,000 endowment to $1,000 Tiger Fund memberships. The program is the first of its kind at JSU, but is common at larger universities.
“We have more athletic programs than we have the funds to operate,” Mason said. “We believe there’s enough support among our alumni, if they choose to provide it, to provide a steady source of additional revenue.
“They have to decide what they want to do with the program. If we can’t fund it at a competitive level, we really are going to have to talk about what sports we can sustain over the long haul.”
“It’s not like we have a choice, it’s something that we must do in order to survive,” Braddy said. “(Dropping programs), it’s very real. You can only put so much in the budget from the (general fund).”
Braddy would not say which sports are in danger of being cut.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference used to have a mandatory 18-sport minimum for league membership. Several years ago, because of financial hardship, that changed, said SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp. Schools must offer at least 14 sports to remain in Division I per NCAA legislation - and the SWAC is a Division I conference. Today, only four institutions (Alabama State, Southern, Prairie View A&M and Jackson State) have 18 programs, and Southern is in danger of losing men’s tennis and women’s golf.
Sharp said there has even been talk of eliminating certain sports conference-wide.
“It’s getting to the point where we have to look at it and be very realistic with ourselves,” Sharp said. “Where do we want to be in three to five years from now as a conference?”
Athletic directors across the conference are tightening in several areas from when teams leave campus for competition, to travel party sizes to per diem expenses.
Alcorn State athletic director Darren Hamilton, who works with a $4.4 million budget for 15 teams, said his programs take bag lunches from on-campus dining services when possible to keep from having to buy the meal on the road.
“We look at how we can adopt and adapt to a cost efficiency plan,” Hamilton said. “Doing pretty well is almost an oxymoron. Because where we’re doing well, you’ve really got to measure results. You’ve got to understand whether coaches are happy with the cuts when they’ve never had to do that before.
“It’s still a slippery slope that we’re walking because you’re not making a whole lot of friends along the way. From a judiciary standpoint, we get a lot of rave reviews.”