Let’s crunch some numbers.
And, yes, crunch is the right word.
As in budget crunch.
That’s what is happening to Marshall University’s athletic department. In 2018, the athletic department budget was $30,612,153. In 2019, it was roughly the same figure. That’s why MU Athletic Director Mike Hamrick was seeking at least a 3.2% raise in the budget for 2020-21.
Instead, the Thundering Herd’s athletic budget was cut $5,000,000 down to $25 million this week.
That’s quite a shot across the bow.
The key to the significant decrease, of course, is COVID-19 and the havoc it has wreaked with businesses. And, yes, Marshall is a business.
There is another problem, however.
It’s called losing money.
That’s what Marshall’s athletic department has been doing lately. In 2018, MU lost $1.2 million. Then, in 2019, it lost another $1.4 million.
That’s a problem.
Know what else is a problem?
In the most recent figures available, only four of 13 members — Rice is a private school and isn’t required to release financial numbers — operated in the black in 2018, according to the College Athletics Financial Information Database.
The quartet included Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. The other nine Conference USA athletic departments all lost money.
CAFI, a project of the Knight Foundation, revealed Marshall lost the second most amount of money in the league, with a deficit of $1,208,202. The only member with a higher deficit was Southern Miss, which lost $1,886,784.
UAB also showed a seven-figure loss with a deficit of $1,073,284. Other C-USA members who had deficits include UTSA ($940,625), followed by Old Dominion ($918,180), North Texas ($633,416), UTEP ($583,830), FIU ($557,171) and Louisiana Tech ($261,094).
That’s pretty sobering.
What’s even more eyebrow-raising is the fact that Old Dominion and North Texas are on the deficit list despite having the two largest athletic budgets in Conference USA. Old Dominion leads with $44,271,033, while North Texas’ budget is $38,002,376.
Here’s some additional somber news. Marshall ranks all the way down in ninth-place among the athletic budgets.
And that’s before the recent $5 million cutback.
Following Old Dominion and North Texas in budgets are Charlotte ($37,919,619), FIU ($35,631,959), Middle Tennessee ($35,353,956), Florida Atlantic ($35,275,379), UAB ($34,736,287), UTEP ($32,855,303), Marshall ($30,612,153), Western Kentucky ($30,595,026), UTSA ($30,368,193), Southern Miss ($24,248,720) and Louisiana Tech ($23,672,886).
Look where Marshall would rank with a $25 million athletic budget.
But, to be fair, probably all of Conference USA’s members will see their athletic budgets suffer cutbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s inevitable for nearly every college athletic department.
Besides that, Marshall recently announced a scale of pay cuts ranging from a minimum of 6% to a maximum of 15%, according to MU’s examples of salary reduction. And, yes, it includes high-profile members of the athletic department.
Head football coach Doc Holliday, whose pay is listed as $789,367, would lose $118,405. Head basketball coach Danny D’Antoni, whose salary is listed as $550,000, would lose $82,500. And Hamrick, whose salary is listed as $310,979, would lose $31,097.
These are tough, tough financial times for college athletics, in particular, and colleges, in general.
And, yes, Marshall definitely is feeling the pinch.