Bill requiring oversight of college athletics reffered to committee

A Washington Senate bill that would require collegiate athletics departments with budget deficits to answer to the Senate has been referred to the Senate Committee of Commerce, Labor and Sports.

If Bill 5109 passes, any collegiate athletics department in the state that operated on a budget deficit for three consecutive calendar years would have to get their budget approved by the committee.

According to the bill, the legislature understands that sports are an important part of the “campus educational process,” but the financial realities of the athletics departments of both WSU and the University of Washington require greater oversight of their budgets.

WSU Athletics has been operating at a budget deficit of $13 million for the last two years. The University of Washington’s Athletic Department has a budget deficit of $15 million.

“As an athletic department, we are working toward achieving a balanced budget,” Associate Athletic Director Bill Stevens said.

Sens. Michael Baumgartner (R) and Andy Billig (D), the bill’s authors, could not be reached for comment.

There are no public hearings scheduled for the bill at this time, according to the bill’s status page.