EWU athletics budget deficit expected to be on higher end of estimate: $3.4M

<p><p>In October, the Eastern Washington University board of trustees was warned the university’s athletics department could face anywhere from a $2.8 million to a $3.4 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year.</p></p><p><p>The shortfall will likely end up closer to $3.4 million as the year goes on, EWU Chief Financial Officer Toni Habegger said.</p></p><p><p>Habegger offered an update on the athletics department’s financial outlook with a brief presentation during Friday’s EWU Board of Trustees meeting.</p></p><p><p>Closing the deficit is the first phase in EWU Interim President David May’s overarching plan to foster a sustainable college athletics program at the NCAA Division I level. At May’s recommendation, the board elected earlier this year to keep EWU athletics at the more prestigious, though more expensive, Division I level, with May’s plan for long-term sustainability focused on ways to increase revenue.</p></p><p><p>Habegger said discussions are ongoing to determine how to fill the deficit.</p></p><p><p>Numbers provided with Friday’s presentation showed such revenues are $300,000 short of what was budgeted for fiscal year 2022. Projected expenses, meanwhile, are about $3 million over budget, with operating expenses over by approximately $1.5 million and the money allocated for scholarships over by $1.46 million.</p></p><p><p>“The current FY ’22 budget was set in motion last spring as you know and then finalized at end of June,” EWU spokesman Dave Meany said in an email. “But things change; just as an example the cost of traveling for our teams – whether it’s fuel-related with buses and airlines or the cost of hotels/food – is much higher than what anyone would have budgeted for back in the spring. Again, when the board and president voted to stay D-1, they knew there would be some budget implications.”</p></p><p><p>Options for filling the gap include unallocated institutional financial aid, additional transfers from the EWU Foundation based on fundraising, continued pursuit of additional donor support and strategies to limit expenses, Habegger said administrators will come back to the board with a plan once those discussions conclude.</p></p><p><p>“(The athletics department is) looking every day at ways to trim costs and manage costs as we move through the end of the year,” she said.</p></p><p><p>Unallocated institutional financial aid is money used for student tuition waivers that has gone unused due to tapering enrollment, Habegger explained. She said the money is used for a number of programs, including need-based aid and academic financial aid.</p></p><p><p>Habegger said administrators anticipated the university will have just over $1 million of unallocated institutional financial aid by the end of the fall term. Any leftovers unused by the end of the fiscal year can carry into next year.</p></p><p><p>Trustee Jay Manning said he isn’t keen on using those funds to close the gap.</p></p><p><p>“It’s not a ‘use it or lose it’ situation,” Manning said. “This money could be used for other things, including financial aid in the future.”</p></p>