HUNTINGTON — Lack of revenue and comparatively low institutional support hinder broader success of the Marshall University Athletic Department, according to a report from an outside company.
CarrSports was hired by the Athletic Department to assess the operational efficiencies and fiscal health of the department. The review began in February and was provided to the university in June. The Board of Governors will hear the report Thursday during their regular meeting, starting with the 9 a.m. athletic committee meeting in Drinko Library.
The study reviewed all aspects of the athletic department, from facilities and the budget to student-athlete success.
The study found Marshall athletics has a steady budget, even with the pandemic. It has worked hard to rise above three NCAA violations.
Marshall student-athletes are among the better students in Conference USA, and the facilities, though needing upgrades, help support the student-athlete success.
But the report found that if Marshall wants to continue to grow its athletic prowess, it must find more revenue and support for the department.
The review states Marshall is among the lowest three universities in Conference USA in providing institutional support for athletics. Average C-USA institutional support is 62%, with Florida International University providing the most with 77%. Marshall provides just less than 50%.
Combined with stagnant ticket sales, the current outlook will make it hard for the department to continue to have more successes.
For example, the department is under-staffed. There are 13 open positions, and there is regular staff turnover, particularly in the student support roles. The operations review “revealed that athletics senior-level managers, department heads and head coaches felt that below-market compensation was a major contributor to regular staff turnover.”
The disparity in market compensation is especially noticeable when comparing Marshall’s coaching staff salaries with Conference USA members, the report reads. Most men’s sports staff earn in the bottom or middle of Conference USA, with the exception of men’s soccer head coach Chris Grassie, who just received a raise to put him in the top earners in the conference. Women’s sports are paid more comparably to other conference coaches.
But rising salaries are among the reasons the Marshall athletic budget has struggled, the report finds.
To generate more revenue, CarrSports highly recommends the department develop a senior-level position to oversee external operations or revenue generating operations and communications.
“Presently, these units are not strategically aligned to generate much-needed Athletics revenues and maximize opportunities to further engage a historically-passionate fan base. With relatively static pre-pandemic ticket sales for Football and Basketball, the addition of an aggressive out-bound ticket sales program must also be considered within an Athletics external operations model,” the report reads.
The report also highly recommends the department create a new strategic plan with specific goals.