University subsidy to athletics increases nearly $300,000 this year

The Central Michigan athletic department is getting an institution subsidy of more than $17 million from the university to operate this year – an increase of almost $300,000 from last year's budget.

The overall expense of athletics is about $23.8 million, with more than $8 million going to faculty and staff compensation. The compensation alone is up $517,189 from the 2011-12 budget. That includes the hiring of new men’s basketball head coach Keno Davis and his staff.

“I don’t have a choice, you have to give raises,” CMU athletics director Dave Heeke said.

CMU athletics generated more than $6.8 million in revenue through ticket sales, scheduling away non-conference games and camps/clinics, among other things. This year, CMU athletics will be 71.96 percent dependent of its institution subsidy.

Last year, the subsidy covered 70.7 percent of the cost to run athletics, which was the fourth-lowest percentage in the Mid-American Conference. Only Toledo, Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) needed less of its total costs covered by its university.

Of Eastern Michigan’s $26 million budget, 79 percent of it was subsidized last year, while 72.6 percent of Western Michigan’s $25.4 million budget was subsidized. Not only was CMU’s percentage lower than those, but its budget was nearly $2 million lower than its MAC Michigan rivals.

“Apples to apples, we’re in the bottom third of our conference in total operating budget,” Deputy Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe said. “We’re at the top of the conference for revenue generated by sport. Our revenue marks help us minimize the support we need.

“It’s a great testament to our institution.”

Athletics must generate revenue for special things

The all-black uniforms the football team wore against Michigan State on Sept. 8 cost the program $23,873 generated by the team itself.

“Special uniforms are funded by the teams themselves,” Heeke said. “Whatever the program deems important by its coach – (whether it be) black or pink uniforms - they reallocate resources. But (the coaches) can’t take that from food money. Those decisions are talked about for a few years, not just a few weeks before a game.”

The women’s basketball team did this with pink uniforms for breast cancer last year.

Over the summer, the men’s basketball team took a trip to the Bahamas for extra practice and games, vital for the inexperienced roster. Last winter, the women’s basketball team played in a tournament in Alaska. These trips, like special uniforms, are also funded by the teams and coaches going above and beyond to create revenue for them.

The Bahamas trip was paid for by a promoter, coming at no cost to the program. In return, CMU competed in the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament last weekend.

“I think we operate very efficiently,” Heeke said. “We maximize the resources we have and we are a benefit to our entire university. That’s why I feel good about it.”


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