Boise State

How will Boise State pay for baseball? By reducing athletics payments to university

Play ball: see all of Boise State's new baseball uniforms

Boise State unveiled its baseball uniforms and hats Wednesday for the team, which has not yet played a game. Photos courtesy Boise State athletics.
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Boise State unveiled its baseball uniforms and hats Wednesday for the team, which has not yet played a game. Photos courtesy Boise State athletics.

Boise State hopes to begin playing baseball in spring 2020 — and the school plans to pay the multimillion-dollar bill in part by reducing a $1.5 million administrative fee the athletic department pays to the university for its indirect support.

The athletic department pays the fee at BSU President Bob Kustra’s discretion, according to a document provided to the State Board of Education in June. The Idaho Statesman obtained that document from Boise State. Other auxiliary units of the university that generate revenue, such as Taco Bell Arena and parking services, also pay administrative fees.

The $1.5 million fee won’t be waived in its entirety, Boise State officials say. It will be used to cover costs associated with baseball and improving the women’s sports programs up to that amount. The fee reduction will last “for the next several years,” according to the document.

“It’s money that’s flexible,” said Greg Hahn, Boise State’s associate vice president for communications and marketing.

Boise State’s $39.4 million athletics budget for fiscal 2018 includes $3.25 million in student fees and $4.88 million in institutional/state support.

The cost of adding baseball and additional funding for women’s sports necessitated by the move will cost Boise State at least $800,000 per year and as much as $2.5 million above what the school saved by cutting its wrestling program in April — depending on how heavily the Broncos invest in baseball and how much revenue the program can produce through ticket sales and fundraising. The wrestling budget was $488,000.

The baseball budget is expected to start at around $1 million. Mountain West member Nevada spent $1.33 million on baseball in fiscal 2016 and lost $914,000 on the sport, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Boise State has pledged to increase women’s sports budgets by a total of $300,000 per year beginning in 2017-18, primarily to ensure that all available women’s scholarships are used, and create a $1.5 million fund for facilities enhancements to the programs for females. The women’s soccer team also could move into the proposed Downtown Boise baseball stadium that would house the Boise Hawks pro baseball team, the Boise State baseball team and likely a pro soccer team beginning in 2020.

Boise State was out of compliance with Title IX in 2015-16 for the first time in seven years because of participation and scholarship proportionality compared to the student body. The university told the State Board this was a “one-year anomaly” but committed the additional $300,000 per year to avoid a recurrence.

“The primary focus of this initiative is to ensure that the women’s programs have the resources to award all of their allotted scholarships each year and adequate revenue for recruiting as well as for other needs,” according to the document prepared for the State Board.

In addition to the proportionality test, Boise State must treat female athletes equally in terms of equipment and supplies, scheduling, travel, access to tutoring and coaching, facilities, housing, dining, publicity and recruiting. Boise State’s research on the financial impact of baseball estimated the school would need to add $230,000 per year for women’s recruiting, $100,000 for travel, $313,500 for equipment and $194,000 for housing and dining. Add in the push to use all scholarships, and the $300,000 annual commitment is only a small step.

Boise State announced Tuesday that it has posted the job of baseball coach and hopes to have a hire in place by the end of the year. Fundraising will be key to paying for baseball, which Boise State dropped in 1980. Fundraising already has started and will be part of the job for the new baseball coach.

The athletic department still will send $700,000 from Stueckle Sky Center revenue to the university’s capital projects fund as part of the deal to finance that addition to Albertsons Stadium.

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Read Boise State’s full letter to the State Board of Education below:

Boise State University

June 2017

Gender Equity – 2010-2017

An effort to make improvements to women’s athletic programs has been steadily underway at Boise State since 2010. This initiative is intended to enhance the success of our women’s programs and stemmed from a desire to see the benefits of these improvements spread through all women’s sports, to the entire athletic department, and beyond. In 2010, Boise State University commissioned a review of the Department’s status in regard to gender equity and has continued the efforts aligned with the results of that review, including another review focused on facilities in 2014.

Our investment in women’s programs since 2010 totals well over $4 million. Specific projects by sport include:

Basketball – In 2012, the University opened the Arguinchona Basketball Complex. The $3.3 million facility was built to serve men’s and women’s basketball, with locker rooms and supporting infrastructure the same for women as for men.

Gymnastics - The University renovated the former basketball locker rooms for future use by the women’s gymnastics team, and at the same time, installed a new gymnastics pit. ($141,000)

Track – Following the football team’s move to the Bleymeier Complex, the former football locker room space was renovated to accommodate women’s track. ($56,400) In 2013, Boise State opened Dona Larsen Park, a $6 million competition and practice facility for track & field (men’s and women’s) and for women’s softball.

Volleyball - In 2012, we began renovation of the volleyball locker rooms and installed new bleachers at Bronco Gym. In 2016, we added a new sound system, installed sound panels, added wall graphics and resurfaced the floor. The University first offered to move the volleyball matches to the Taco Bell Arena to take advantage of the larger, more modern venue. However, the volleyball coach and team prefer to compete in Bronco Gym, and the University honored that request and made investments in the facility. ($237,600)

Beach Volleyball - In 2014 the University built a new beach volleyball competition venue, enabling the addition of this new women’s sport at Boise State, which was at the time the fastest growing sport in the NCAA. ($60,000)

Swimming & Diving – Since it was established at Boise State in 2006, the Swimming & Diving Team has practiced on the Boise State campus and held competitions at the West YMCA. A number of improvements have been undertaken since 2014:

  • Installed large fan over pool to improve air quality for swim team ($7,000).
  • Added a cool down tub ($4,500).
  • Remodeled swim locker room, including new lockers, flooring and benches ($10,700).
  • Installed new starting block in lane 6 of the swimming pool ($6,400)
  • Established exclusivity for competitions at the West YMCA (approximately $4,000 per season)

Softball – Softball began competing as a varsity program in 2009. In 2013, Boise State opened Dona Larsen Park (see Track above). In addition, the softball program took over the locker rooms that previously housed the track and field team following a minor renovation.

Each of these programs has realized the impact of these improvements on recruiting, competition, program success and the overall student-athlete experience. The women’s volleyball team has been boosted by the advent of its beach volleyball program and it has seen the benefits of the locker room and Bronco Gym enhancements in its recruiting. The volleyball team was the MWC Champion in 2016. The Swimming & Diving team has won three conference championships in six years in the Mountain West. The Broncos’ women’s basketball program has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons, winning Mountain West Tournament in both 2015 and 2017. The gymnastics team has captured three-straight Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference titles and made 10-consecutive appearances at the NCAA Regional Championships. Over the course of the last four seasons, the women’s track & field program has produced 23 All-Americans, including two national champions and a national runner-up. This past season the softball team advanced to the postseason for the first time in school history, but fell in the regional title game of the National Invitational Softball Championship.

Unfortunately in 2017, for the first time in seven years, the university was found to be out of compliance with Title IX standards related to participation proportionality and scholarship proportionality. While the one year anomaly was caused by reasonable circumstances (one of the major ones being unexpected medical scholarship numbers in a single year), the fact that the women’s programs did not offer all of their allotted scholarships in 2015-2016 is of concern. Redirecting existing Athletic department funds to ensure that the women’s sports can offer their entire scholarship allotments each year will alleviate this concern. Thus, beginning in FY2018, we are committing an annual $300,000 in additional ongoing budget devoted to women’s sports. The primary focus of this initiative is to ensure that the women’s programs have the resources to award all of their allotted scholarships each year and adequate revenue for recruiting as well as for other needs.

Budgeting for Baseball and Gender Equity

The 2017 announcement to discontinue wrestling and add baseball has been tied, by some, to a need to make improvements in women’s programs. As the above demonstrates, investments have been quietly ongoing for several years. However, the decision to add baseball as a future program does require that we ensure the overall athletic program stays aligned with gender equity goals and that we continue the momentum begun in recent years with investments in women’s programs.

One of the more attractive aspects of the possibility of a downtown stadium for baseball is that it is also designed to accommodate women’s soccer. While the project is still in the design phase, and concrete plans are not yet complete, the possibility that the stadium could accommodate competitions for Boise State women’s soccer is tremendous. Thereby the advent of a baseball program could end up creating a significant program enhancement for women’s soccer.

The funding mechanism for baseball and for continued investments in women’s programs is reallocation of existing Athletic Department revenue. Specifically, the university will earmark fees that Athletics pays to the central administration for this use.

Currently, all auxiliaries at Boise State, including Athletics, pay an annual fee (administrative service charge) to support university central operations. This is a charge that is imposed at the discretion of the president. For the next several years, the revenue derived from the athletic department’s payment of this fee, combined with savings from the wrestling program, will be used to support further investments in women’s program enhancements and to support the development and operations of a new baseball team. Fundraising efforts for baseball are also slated to begin immediately.

The administrative service charge sits apart from the Board required caps in state funding and institutional support to Athletics. At Boise State, we have allocated the level of institutional support allowed by the Board, but then the university also imposes this charge to Athletics as a central fee. To some degree, the administrative service charge ends up negating the institutional support that Athletics receives. By directing that the Athletic Department’s contribution to the administrative service charge be used to support women’s programming and baseball, we can support new activities in Athletics without exceeding the caps set by the Board.

In order to make this work, priorities will be sequenced in a manner to match budget needs with the realities of the resources available. First, baseball will not begin competition until at least the fall of 2019 (FY20). During the next two fiscal years, baseball will be allocated enough funding to start the program. In FY18, resources will allow the hiring of a head coach who can start initial recruiting and begin fundraising efforts. In FY19, the rest of the coaching staff will be hired, equipment will be purchased and the recruiting and signing of a squad will be finalized. In FY20, the Broncos will be ready to take the field. At the same time, investments in women’s sports enhancements will continue. In addition to the ongoing $300,000 for recruiting, scholarships and other program additions, approximately $1,500,000 will be set aside for continued improvements to women’s facilities.

Conclusion

Boise State University is well positioned to continue its excellence in women’s athletics. In recent years, we have made a conscious choice to invest in our commitment to our women’s programs. These investments were not, and are not, driven only by a compliance need. Of course, compliance with Title IX is a priority for the university; however, the drive to build excellent programs in women’s sports is about much more than compliance. It is about building programs with benefits that extend across the entire University, to our students, to the community, and beyond. The addition of baseball neither detracts from that vision, nor does it depend on that vision. They are mutually consistent and mutually beneficial goals that the University is committed to pursuing in a fiscally responsible manner. A strategic reorganization of the use of existing resources accomplishes this and moves the University and its athletic programs forward.

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