Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
For the first time under the new University of New Mexico administration, the athletics department presented a team-by-team expense breakdown that, while not entirely complete, is the best snapshot to date of what each of the Lobos’s 22 NCAA-recognized varsity sports costs to run.
First-year athletics director Eddie Nuñez on Tuesday presented a more detailed account of this year and next year’s budgets to the Board of Regents Finance and Facilities Committee. Regents already approved next year’s budget but had requested greater details, including a sport-by-sport breakdown.
Nuñez said he can’t explain why the department in past years did not present budgets that accurately tracked how much each sport cost the university. Before, regents have approved athletics department budgets with much less detail.
“We’re trying to basically deconstruct what has been in place, which takes some time,” Nuñez said. “We feel confident that we’re getting there. We still want to be able to break it up even more line by line.”
July 1 is still the working deadline for the athletics department to come up with a “reduction in sports” of about $1.9 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Nuñez said he was not yet prepared to discuss which sports might be eliminated or even when the department might announce the criteria it will use to decide which sports to eliminate, if any.
As a member of the Mountain West Conference, UNM is required to field a football team and men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Nuñez did say finances, “donor ramifications” and fan bases would be among factors to consider when thinking about eliminating a sport.
Tuesday’s numbers, as expected, show football costs the most among UNM sports. For the fiscal year ending June 30, it will have cost about $6.4 million, not including scholarships.
Men’s basketball is next at $3.9 million.
At the other end of the spectrum are sports like women’s tennis, $206,337; and beach volleyball, $208,004.
Still not included in the sport-by-sport breakdowns, however, is the rather significant cost of scholarships, or “grants-in-aid.”
Football, for instance, awards roughly 85 scholarships a year, while men’s basketball awards a maximum of 13 scholarships and women’s basketball awards 15. Sports like golf, tennis and skiing award five or fewer per sport.
So why not include “grant-in-aid” costs in the sport-by-sport presentation on Tuesday?
Nuñez said that information has been kept in a single line item on past budgets and is now being broken down with more detail.
“Those numbers right now, we didn’t want to quote because we’re still finishing the semester, plus we have summer (semester courses for some athletes),” Nuñez said. “We wanted to make sure we got those numbers as accurate as possible before we broke them down team-by-team.”
According to the 2017 fiscal year report UNM submitted to the NCAA, the average value of a scholarship for a female student athlete – which could include tuition, books, meals and housing – was $33,048.
UNM spread out about 95 athletic scholarships among 157 female student athletes in the 2016-17 academic year.
The approximate value of a scholarship for a male student athlete was $35,451. Many male athletes, in football and men’s basketball in particular, enroll in summer classes, which increases the value.
UNM disbursed about 150 athletic scholarships in the 2016-17 academic year to about 218 male student athletes.