Regents to address $67 million athletics deficit

WSU’s highest governing body will discuss athletics, one-time $30M finance, HR system



Ron Sims, left, vice chair of the WSU Board of Regents, and Alyssa Norris, student regent, listen during a Board of Regents meeting last September. The Board of Regents unanimously approved a new athletics budget plan aimed at reducing the department’s multi-million dollar deficit Friday.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

WSU estimated the cumulative deficit facing athletics will be $67 million at the end of the 2018 fiscal year, according to WSU Board of Regents documents.

The information was made public due to a new state law that requires regents of the state’s colleges and universities to approve their annual athletics budget in an open meeting in advance of the fiscal year.

These figures come in the middle of a university-wide budget crisis and just weeks after newly-released numbers showed that athletics accounts for about half of the decrease in university savings.

According to the documents, the regents must approve a plan for reducing operating deficits in upcoming fiscal years and approve transfers needed to account for the deficit at the end of the fiscal year.

Another large monetary decision involves a possible $30 million one-time project to switch to a new university-wide finance and human resources software called Workday, according to regents documents.

Other universities in the U.S. have implemented the Workday system, with some running into issues with the software. The Nevada System of Higher Education, which oversees state-funded higher education institutions in Nevada, suffered a year-long delay in making the system go live, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The one-time project budget of $30 million would take up to 22 years to repay at the most, according to the documents. The project will be funded by “externally financed debt,” including “taxable obligations.” The documents state this model allows for a balance between the university’s monetary recovery plan to combat the budget crisis and the need for a more modern system.

The financing for the one-time cost will come from a little more than $3 million in revenue currently used to cover infrastructure investments that will soon be paid off, according to regents documents.

After the one-time cost of $30 million, WSU will spend approximately $7 million a year for expenses such as software subscription, security, staffing, training and other costs.

A majority of the funding for this $7 million yearly budget will come from what the documents call “overhead rate on payroll and revenue generated by enrollment growth.” According to the documents, this funding will be repaid by funds saved over the previous few years, money from a “strategic reinvestment pool,” revenue from increased enrollment and a new payroll tax.

Other items scheduled for the Spokane meetings on Thursday and Friday include the election of officers, establishing new on-site and online degrees and various budget items.

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