The cost of running the athletic program at Dixie State University is rising.
DSU spent an average of $5,603,200 between 2013-2016. However, the average revenue for the athletic program for those four years was $5,677,294, for a net gain of $74,093. Jason Boothe, executive director of athletics, clarified details concerning aspects of the athletic department’s budget spanning the years 2013-2016.
“Student fees go directly back to other students in the form of team operating expenses,” Boothe said. “Travel, recruiting, running the games — this is what the student fees are for.”
Recently, the athletics programs asked for a $15 increase in the amount the program receives out of the student fees allotment. The program was turned down and instead given a $1 increase.
The athletic department just received money from the state Boothe said. He also said the money was specifically for helping student athletes with academics and GPA improvement.
“We haven’t had the money for this before now, so we are grateful [state legislation] has given us this money,” Boothe said. “But it isn’t for anything outside of academic services.”
Boothe said being turned down for the $15 dollar raise in student fees and only receiving $1 more — for a total of $81 from each student’s fees — will create problems for the athletic program, as the program needed the money to combat rising costs.
“[The athletic program] depends on student fees to help our teams operate, so even while we won’t get the $15 increase, we are very grateful for what the student body has given us,” Boothe said.
Bryant Flake, executive director of planning and budget, said part of the problem was the rising cost of running athletics programs at the university level.
“Unfortunately, due to the nature of athletics, the costs are constantly going up,” Flake said. “We are allowed every other year to ask for more of the student fees, but it is a constant struggle for resources.”
Flake said the athletic budget is assessed yearly starting with the year’s activity, the results from the individual programs, and the baseline cost to run each sport. He attributed the recent rise in DSU’s athletic spending to the recent driver for Title IX compliance.
“This year we’ve fielded the women’s swim team and women’s track,” Flake said. “So the cost can be tied to not only outfitting the teams, but also their travel, recruitment, coaches and everything else that comes with a full team.”
Scott Jensen, executive director of business services, said despite rising costs, student fees are never used to make up a sport’s shortfalls.
“Say if football doesn’t bring in enough money during their season, we will cover the deficit with the athletic department’s administration budget,” Jensen said.
How much money was enough depends on what it costs to run that particular team, Jensen said.
However, the athletic program is not self-sufficient, Jensen said, which is why it depends on student fees and institutional support.
According to the NCAA’s website, DSU is the only Division II school in Utah. This has additional challenges that can be hard to understand since there are no nearby schools to compare budgets with DSU, Boothe said. Part of the reason for the move to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference was to try and cut some of the traveling costs.
“It doesn’t matter if we are a Division I or a Division II school, a plane ticket costs the same,” Boothe said. “The only problem is, we make less money than a Division I school and can’t make up the cost as easily.”
Flake said going by the numbers, having an athletics program may not seem like the best thing for the university.
“Athletics programs are costly, and will continue to be so,” Flake said. “But [DSU] would really feel the lack of an athletic program and quickly.”
Boothe said some of the benefits the university would miss out would be in the form of enrollment, advertising, public relations, community service and more intangible benefits.
“There are also those who could not come to college without the benefit of an athletics program,” Flake said. “Athletics is one of DSU’s major recruiting tools for out-of-state students, and bring more diversity to the university.”