task force report recommends restructuring sports program,
finances and academic support
with prospects of an athletics program deficit that could reach
$47 million by 2010, a Virginia 2020 task force recommends creating
formal tiers for the Universitys 24 varsity
sports to bolster the strongest programs and reduce support for
some lower-profile sports. The task
forces report, presented April 6 to the Board
of Visitors, also calls for gradually increasing student fees
to match those of the states other public institutions and
challenges the Virginia Student Aid Foundation to create a $100
million endowment to support the athletics
departments operating budget.
address both financial concerns and federal Title IX requirements,
the task force recommends creating a womens golf team and
eliminating mens indoor track and field. The commissions
report also recommends a number of measures to revamp academic
support for U.Va. student-athletes.
current athletes will lose their scholarships as a result of the
changes. University President John T. Casteen III created the
Strategic Planning Task Force for the Department of Athletics
as part of the Virginia 2020 long-term planning effort. Chaired
by Curry School professor Carolyn Callahan, U.Va.s faculty
athletics representative to the Atlantic Coast Conference and
the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the 17-member commission
includes faculty, staff, student, alumni and Athletics Department
representatives. M. Terry Holland, U.Va. director of athletics,
is an ex officio member of the commission.
directed the panel to develop aspirations for the Department
of Athletics, addressing four main areas: programs and facilities,
academic and student life, compliance with federal and NCAA regulations,
and finances and fund-raising. The task force was to establish
clear 20-year goals for athletics, identify financial requirements
to support those goals and recommend an appropriate management
stressed that the recommendations do not signal that the Universitys
athletics program is in distress. Were not in trouble,
she said. The costs of college athletics are increasing
dramatically. Revenues are not increasing as dramatically. It
was time to plan ahead.
to an NCAA report, only 46 percent of Division I-A schools nationwide
reported budgetary surpluses in 1999, and 54 percent reported
a deficit. The ranks of those in the red included the University
of North Carolina and the University of Michigan, among the most
successful athletics programs in the country.
the Board of Visitors heard in an October preliminary report,
the task force found a small but persistent operating
deficit in athletics, estimated at $200,000 for the current fiscal
year. However, the department projects that the annual deficit
could reach $10.4 million within 10 years and a cumulative shortfall
of $47 million unless changes are made.
forecast to rise between 8 and 10 percent annually
are driving the imbalance, Callahan said. Travel costs are rising,
along with the number of competitions and championships. The salaries
needed to lure and retain top coaching talent continue to increase.
Meanwhile, the Universitys revenue from television contracts
and apparel contracts is expected to plateau or even decline,
according to the report. Virginia law prohibits public colleges
and universities from using tuition dollars or state funds to
support intercollegiate athletics. All money for these programs
must be raised from student fees, ticket sales, media revenues,
product sales, licensing agreements, user fees and private donations.
predicament is increasingly common throughout the country, where
many schools recently have been forced to eliminate teams or take
other cost-cutting measures, including Kansas, Nebraska and closer
to home, James Madison University. Antitrust considerations prevent
the NCAA from addressing what its president, Cedric Dempsey, terms
an arms race in salaries, facilities and other aspects of
the financial figures are alarming, they provided the impetus
for a hard look at all aspects of U.Va.s athletics program,
including the academic experience of the student-athlete, task
force chair Callahan said. It is not at all clear that the
University community acts in concert to ensure that student-athletes
develop their full academic potential, the report says.
University remains committed to excellence in its intercollegiate
athletics programs, Callahan said. The stated goal remains: finish
among the top 10 schools in the annual Sears Directors Cup
nationwide rankings of Division I-A athletics programs, which
annually measure the combined performances of mens and womens
sports. U.Va. has placed in the top 25 in each of the Sears Cup
programs seven years, including a No. 8 ranking in the 1998-1999
elimination of mens winter indoor track and field would
have no effect on the number of student-athletes and coaches at
the University, because all participants also compete for the
cross-country or outdoor track teams, which have their seasons
in the fall and spring, respectively. However, each season counts
separately in determining compliance with federal Title IX requirements,
which mandate that the proportion of male and female sports participants,
and the funding that each genders teams receive, conform
closely to that of the undergraduate student body at large. While
Title IX was certainly a consideration, the decision was balanced
with financial issues, Callahan said.
University has received a substantial, anonymous gift to fund
grants-in-aid for womens golf, the report notes, and the
sport has low operating costs. The team would play its home schedule
at the Universitys golf course, Birdwood.
If the changes are approved, women would make up 51 percent of
U.Va.s student-athletes, up from 47 percent previously.
Approximately 54 percent of the Universitys undergraduate
student body is female.
current budget cannot support a top-10 program and individual
sports are losing their ability to compete, the report concludes.
Department of Athletics maintains a delicate balance between
supporting the revenue-generating sports and maintaining the Olympic
the athletics department has instituted several cost-saving measures,
including reduced travel, extending use of uniforms and equipment,
and deferring major expenses and maintenance.
the deferments of certain personnel, scholarship, operational,
and capital expenses have already created a deficit that must
be remedied to maintain our current competitive status,
the report states. A survey of Athletics Department coaches, administrators
and financial staff identified $2.2 million in operating expenses
and $25 million in capital needs as minimal additional expenses
currently considered essential for maintaining a top-10 program.
looming threat of deficits forces difficult choices, Callahan
said. Rather than eliminate several programs that operate at a
deficit, the task force instead chose to give higher priority
to those sports that either generate revenue for the department
or are strong contributors to the athletics departments
do that, the report recommends classifying sports in one of the
following four tiers, with classifications to be reviewed annually:
Top-tier sports football and mens and womens
basketball are characterized by full funding of grants-in-aid
to compete at the highest intercollegiate level.
The second tier will include programs supported by full
or substantial grants-in-aid and operating budgets to contend
for a national championship. The sports recommended for
such status are mens and womens lacrosse, mens
and womens soccer, field hockey, rowing, and mens
and womens swimming.
Third-tier sports would provide limited grants-in-aid or
need-based aid, minimal staffs and operating budgets. They include
womens golf (if added), softball, womens tennis, womens
cross-country, womens indoor and outdoor track and field,
Participants in fourth-tier sports would receive only need-based
financial aid. Teams would have a limited coaching staff and would
undertake regional travel only, although they would continue to
compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
sports would include baseball, wrestling, mens golf, mens
tennis, mens cross-country, mens indoor track and
field (if not dropped) and mens outdoor track and field.
stressed that current grants-in-aid would be honored. Cutbacks
in staffing will likely occur gradually through attrition, although
the athletics director will determine how best to phase them in.
with these changes, financial projections show a substantial deficit
in 10 years. To close the gap, the task force recommends that
the Virginia Student Aid Foundation establish a $100 million endowment
to support operating costs, which could include endowing coaches
salaries much as some professorships are already endowed.
report finds that internal and external revenue streams are currently
overseen by four different entities with little coordination.
It recommends that fund-raising, marketing, promotion and ticket
sales be coordinated by a new senior associate athletics director
for fund-raising and external operations, who would report to
both the athletics director and the Universitys vice president
task force examined the student fees charged at the states
15 public colleges and universities. Total student fees for the
2000-2001 academic year at U.Va. were $1,114, of which $238, or
21.4 percent, was allocated to athletics. Comparable fees at the
other schools ranged from a low of $848 at Virginia Tech to a
high of $3,224 at Virginia Military Institute. The average student
fee was $1,692, almost 50 percent higher than fees at U.Va. Only
Virginia Tech allocated a lower absolute dollar amount of its
fees to athletics.
light of these findings, the task force recommended that the Board
of Visitors increase student fees by $50 per year until they equal
the statewide average, with the increase going to the athletics
is important to acknowledge and to emphasize that it has historically
been difficult to discover and maintain the proper balance between
the aims of higher education and the goals of intercollegiate
athletics, the report states. The University of Virginia
is not exempt from that struggle.
the same time that athletes are participating in an increased
number of competitions and championships, the University is seeking
increased academic performance from all of its students. The natural
tension that results can pull student-athletes in two different
directions, Callahan said.
U.Va., there is no place to hide, she said. The students
here, in order to maintain academic standing, have to be real
statistics show that grade-point averages for student-athletes
have risen steadily, with an overall increase of 0.13 points between
1990 and 1999, compared to a University-wide rise of 0.11. Additionally,
the most recent NCAA statistics show that U.Va. athletes who entered
in the 1993-94 school year graduated at a 78 percent rate, well
above the Division I-A average of 59 percent. U.Va.s
figures, while impressive, remained well below the University-wide
the Universitys interest goes beyond GPAs and graduation
rates, Callahan said. We dont want student-athletes
to just graduate, but to feel like they have had a chance to be
successful students here and successful student-athletes, and
that those are not mutually antagonistic goals.
to the report, the gap in academic preparation and subsequent
academic success at the University is growing between the lowest
10 percent of the student body and the rest of the students in
The perception of the Office of the Dean
of the College is that an increasing number of student-athletes
fall into this group of students. That gap is not due to
any lowering of standards, reports Dean of Admission John A. Blackburn,
but because the increasing overall credentials of each years
entering class fosters more competition in the classroom.
graduation rates and grade-point averages demonstrate that student-athletes
have, on the whole, been successful academically, other
data suggest that we have not been as successful as we might be
in identifying students who do not have the potential to succeed
academically, the report states.
competing demands on the time of student-athletes from both the
academic and athletic sectors have led to what the report called
a relatively pervasive mutual mistrust between faculty and
coaches related to the intersection between the academic mission
of the University and the goals of the Department of Athletics.
task force recommends greater communication between athletics,
academic and admissions personnel, including creating a permanent
committee to include faculty, representatives of deans offices,
coaches, Athletics Department administrators and representatives
of support offices.
report also calls for redesigning the Department of Athletics
academic advising and support services to ensure that student-athletes
are provided with consistent advice in support of a high-quality
current investment in academic support services fails to meet
the increased needs of students across all sports and is weak
in comparison to the services provided at other institutions,
the report concludes.
report also recommends that more incoming first-year student-athletes
be enrolled in a summer transition program as a condition of their
admission to U.Va. to help them adapt to the Universitys
rigorous academic environment.
task force did not make a recommendation about whether or not
to build a new basketball arena, but expressed concerns about
projected costs and possible overruns. Our investigation
of this issue did not lead to a clear and decisive conclusion
about the feasibility of building an arena. However, we believe
that if a decision to build an arena is made, such a step should
be taken with considerable caution, the report states. The
task force also concluded that any new arena be designed for uses
beyond the needs of mens and womens basketball.
report also recommends the adoption of a student-athlete code
of conduct, which is currently undergoing an administrative review.
force recommends four-tier reorganization of athletic
Football Men's basketball Women's basketball
Full funding of grants-in-aid to NCAA maximums
Operating budgets to compete at the highest intercollegiate
Mens lacrosse Womens lacrosse
Mens soccer Womens soccer
Field hockey Rowing Mens swimming
Full or substantial grants-in-aid
Operating budgets to compete for
a national championship
Womens golf (if added) Softball
Womens tennis Womens cross country
Womens indoor and outdoor track & field
Limited grants-in-aid or need-based aid
Minimal staff and operating budgets
Baseball Wrestling Mens golf
Mens tennis Mens cross country
Mens indoor track & field (if not dropped)
Mens outdoor track & field
Need-based financial aid
Limited, regional travel Limited coaching staff