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September 05, 2004

Distressing Financials For Indiana University Athletics Program

FROM THE HOOSIER STATE comes an update on a decade-long string of distressing financial news for the Indiana University athletics program.

IU’s plight is the plight of many dozens of big Division I athletics programs with under-performing football teams.

First, the facts:

• The last time Indiana’s athletic budget finished in the black was the 1999-2000 season.

• In the 2002-03 season, IU athletics had a $1.8 million deficit on a budget of $36 million.

• In the 2002-03 school year, Indiana football accounted for only 21% of total athletics expenses, but generated 39% of total athletics revenue.

• In the 2002-03 school year, Indiana basketball accounted for only 8.3% of total athletics expenses, but generated 29% of total athletics revenue.

• If the deficit is to be reduced, then it is football that will have to carry the effort (Basketball is pretty much tapped out).

• Indiana’s last winning football season was in 1994, with a 6-5 record.

• Since 1994, Indiana’s football records have been 2-9, 3-8, 2-9, 4-7, 4-7, 3-8, 5-6, 3-9 and 2-10 in 2003.

• IU’s poor performance has resulted in poor attendance (and poor game revenue).

• Indiana has great difficulty in recruiting football players. Blue chip prospects go to the more prestigious (for football) Big 10 schools: Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Plus there’s Notre Dame and Purdue not far away.

Everyone is well aware that football will have to shoulder the load for IU’s fiscal turnaround. Third-year football coach Gerry DiNardo said, “It doesn’t matter where you’re coaching nowadays. It’s all relative. The budget is moving up and down the football field every Saturday.”

Earlier this week Indiana University named its fourth athletic director in three years, Rick Greenspan. In a symbolic gesture, Greenspan promised to donate $10,000 to the athletics program. He was hired largely due to his fund-raising abilities.

This financial report is unsettling for Indiana, but it is also unsettling for dozens of other big state universities mired in the “Keep-up-with-the-Joneses” pyramid game. These schools are by no means involved in the “arms race” of the giants. They are having trouble just coming up with the ante.

(this 358 word excerpt—with accompanying commentary—was distilled from a 2342 word article from the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of 8-29-04 and a 652 word article from the Associated Press of 9-3-04)