Task Force Report Recommends Restructuring Of Sports Program, Finances,
6, 2001-- Faced with prospects of an athletics program
deficit that could reach $47 million by 2010, a University of Virginia
task force recommends creating formal "tiers" for the
Universitys 24 varsity sports to bolster the Universitys
strongest programs and reduce support for some lower-profile sports.
The task forces report, presented today to U.Va.s Board
of Visitors, also calls for gradually increasing student fees to
match those of Virginias 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
discontinuing 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
of Virginia President John T. Casteen III created the Strategic
Planning Task Force for the Department of Athletics as part of the
Universitys Virginia 2020 long-term planning effort. Chaired
by Carolyn Callahan, a professor in the Curry School of Education
and 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 structure.
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
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, with 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 men's and women's 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 academic year.
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
gender's 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
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.
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.
The Department of Athletics maintains a delicate balance
between supporting the revenue-generating sports and maintaining
the Olympic sports."
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 department's national ranking.
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
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, and volleyball.
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
would continue to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
These sports would include baseball, wrestling, mens golf,
mens tennis, mens cross-country, mens indoor
track and field (if not dropped) and mens outdoor track
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 for
task force examined the student fees charged at the states
15 public colleges and universities. Total student fees (see table)
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
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
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 students."
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 graduation rates.
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
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 year's 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
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
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
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
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.
Louise Dudley, (804) 924-1400