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BYU's sports budget not seeing red ink financing smaller sports

Published: Friday, Feb. 18 2011 2:11 p.m. MST

BYU\'s Jake Heaps runs for a first down in this photo taken Oct. 9, 2010. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives) BYU\'s Jake Heaps runs for a first down in this photo taken Oct. 9, 2010. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives)

This is part two in a two-part series.

During the 2009 season, BYU sports won championships in women's swimming and diving, softball and men's and women's indoor track and outdoor track. None of these lofty achievements – or even these teams' existence – would have been possible without the football team's 11-2 season.

Only two out of BYU's 21 teams made money in 2009. And of the two remaining teams, men's basketball only made enough to do a little better than break even. That leaves football to cover everything else.

With the way the athletics budget is run, however, no sport owes football an IOU.

Dallan Moody, the BYU athletic director over finances, said the budget is only categorized by individual sports for purposes of reporting to the Department of Education.

"We don't look at it as each sport needs to balance a budget," Moody said. "It's just the athletic department as a whole."

Moody said there is much to be proud of with the BYU budget, especially in the current economy.

"If you look across the athletic departments throughout the country, a lot of them had difficult times,"" Moody said. "But here at BYU, we've been able to avoid all that just because we've been more prudent fiscally or just trying to always live within our means."

Moody said other universities have been forced to implement furloughs for coaches or cut certain sports entirely. But BYU has been able to thrive.

In 2009, the most recent year with data available, BYU sports spent about $35 million but made almost $41 million. This works out to a profit of $5.5 million, or almost 16 percent.

The 2010 information won't be submitted until October, but Moody said he expects the 2010 numbers will be similar to 2009.

"I think you'll see an uptick in revenue and about the same or just slightly more uptick in expenses," Moody said.

But two successful years in a row doesn't mean the job is easy.

"It's an every year thing," Moody said. "So even once the year closes, we're back at the same game for next year, coming up with the budget for the fall here. It's just one of the burdens of the industry I guess you could say."

And with next year's move to independence for BYU football and to the West Coast Conference for other BYU sports, football will only become more of a factor – in both income and costs.

"Our travel budget for football will be a lot higher, because instead of just having our regional travels here, we're going to be going across the country," Moody said. "[But we'll] have a new ESPN contract, and so that will help on the revenue side as well."

Details of the ESPN contract are not disclosed to the public. But at the time of BYU football's independence announcement, KSL estimated the contract to be less than Notre Dame's $15 million NBC contract, but much more than BYU's current $1.5 million deal with the Mountain West Conference.

For everything else other than football, Moody said he expects things to stay the same.

"Going into the WCC in comparison to the Mountain West, it was pretty regional travel and set-up there [in the MWC], and it just shifts a little bit more to the west," Moody said. "But we don't see real great changes from the budget perspective from going to the WCC."

Jeff Judkins, women's basketball head coach, said he anticipates traveling in the WCC will save his team money. Because his team will have more games in California and the West Coast, he will have more flight options and won't need to rent a bus to Laramie, Wyo., or Fort Collins, Colo.

"Plus, the other part of it is, from what I understand we'll probably play two games on the road, like Thursday [and] Saturday," Judkins said. "So now we won't be flying back, and that cost will probably help."

Moody said where the most back-and-forth happens in budget planning is deciding travel budgets with each coach.

"That's sometimes a hard number to put into place, because your away game schedule will change each year, and then inflation, and travel costs go up and down as well," Moody said. "So it's sometimes a little bit of a negotiation to try to peg that number just right."

Mark Robison, BYU men's track head coach, said he has always been satisfied with the budget he is given.

"I don't have any problem at all with my budget," Robison said. "They've supported me very, very well. I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever."

Sometimes, even well-planned budgets are thrown off by surprise costs.

"We can tell pretty well what kind of money it's going to take," BYU swimming and diving head coach Tim Powers said. "[But] there are some things that put a little bit of a cramp in that, and that is airlines decide to start charging for bags."

Judkins said the second-most discussed budget line item is probably equipment, especially video cameras and electronics.

"Your video equipment after a year wears out, your computers, your cameras, all your stuff that you have," Judkins said.

Moody said the Athletic Department keeps coaches informed on the financial situation on the whole department, so the coaches know what is possible for their teams and what is not.

"Generally … we try to be as transparent as possible in providing our budget numbers to the coaches, letting them see as a whole how the athletic department is doing," Moody said. "So they generally see where we are, what we're asking, and it's not like they feel like we're trying to surprise them or twist their arms. We have pretty open dialogue … I think we're all pretty content with where the numbers settle down when we provide a budget to them."

Powers said he and the Athletic Department do their best to achieve the same goal.

"We don't want to waste money," Powers said. "And so we're always on the lookout for the best possible way of making a good experience for the kids and at the same time not bankrupting our program."

E-mail: joshjoed@gmail.com

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