WSU needs to rethink athletics spending

Getting better athletics is great, but WSU should spread the cash

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WSU needs to rethink athletics spending

LAUREN PETTIT

LAUREN PETTIT

LAUREN PETTIT

ERIN HARVEY, Evergreen columnist

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The departure of former head football coach Mike Leach left people asking lots of questions regarding the future of the Washington State football team. Who would be chosen to fill the big shoes that Leach had left behind, and in what direction would the team be headed as a result? But perhaps the most important question people should be asking lies within the financial aspects of these events: how much money is the athletic department willing to invest in such a big change? It looks as though the answer is quite a lot.

Over the past few years with Leach coaching the Cougars, he has reportedly made some big bucks. Leach signed a contract back in 2017 to make $3.5 million+ dollars through its duration. These numbers did not include a bonus check of $750,000, which would have been awarded after this year’s season. Recently Nick Rolovich has signed on as football coach with a $3 million contract which is likely to increase if the team keeps winning. 

These numbers are nowhere near the extent of WSU’s heavy sports expenses. In March of 2019, basketball head coach Kyle Smith signed a six year contract, under which he would make $1.4 million a year. In addition to Smith’s hire, WSU athletics has also recently brought on baseball’s Brian Green, hiring him with a salary of $315,000.  These numbers do not include the salaries given to assistants, or the money spent on facility renovations and upkeep. Athletic Director Pat Chun doesn’t look like he’ll stop at anything to bring in top-tier resources for his athletic teams.

But when does all this spending cross a line? Football and basketball undoubtedly bring in a lot of money for the school, and those sports have the right to invest in their own programs.

“Lots of funding comes from ticket sales and games,” Grace Turner, a psychology student, said. “For bigger state schools, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.”

However, there certainly comes a time when the spending becomes too much, with an example being the 2017 dismissal of WSU’s Performing Arts program. At a time when the school had been overspending, the decision was made to protect athletics over academics, while the outcome probably should have been the opposite. The school appears to be very willing to spend on these sports, yet there are perhaps much greater ways to use their money. A good project to invest in could be the celebration of multiculturalism on campus.

“Washington State should put more effort into supporting students with diversity,” Annalei Santos, a transfer student studying anthropology, said.

The school could also put more money into their health and wellness services, or work on strengthening their career-preparation programs.

“You earn your degree, and then you don’t know what to do with it,” Turner said.

As fellow Cougars, we can only hope that these new coaches, especially football’s Nick Rolovich, will develop their programs and foster even greater success, for the delight of the fans and the reputation of the school. Tacking on more wins, and therefore more excitement, around the teams would even aid in the accumulation of money and funding. We just hope that the university will put their athletic agenda aside for a bit and give some attention to the academic side of the spectrum. Because while we may all love sports, we are here for an education first.