WSU Board of Regents reviews financial impacts of athletics, COVID-19

WSU expects to pay $54 million loss with savings; university will issue new bonds to pay for increasing debt



WSU is still asking for full funding for the athletics budget. The athletics deficit has grown by $25 million, partly due to the loss of PAC-12 ticket sales.


The WSU Board of Regents discussed WSU’s previously-created financial plan and the athletics deficit during its virtual meeting on Thursday.

Financial Planning 

A new financial plan will help the university recover from the financial challenges brought on by COVID-19, said Stacy Pearson, vice president for finance and administration.

WSU’s current financial forecast indicates a $54.5 million net revenue loss for the 2021 fiscal year, which the university expects to pay for with its savings. This assumes WSU will play football in 2021, Pearson said.

WSU will issue new bonds. The proceeds will go toward the debt, which will increase in the next couple of years, creating savings and cash liquidity, she said.

The debt would be repaid over the span of 10 to 15 years. The use of debt to create required cash liquidity is a one-time solution, Pearson said.

Regents member Heather Redman said the financial plan is not aggressive enough.

“I wonder if we are not taking some of the more radical moves that we need to re-make ourselves for the next couple of cycles of change,” she said.

Athletics Budget

WSU continues to ask for full funding for the athletics budget, said Colleen Kerr, WSU vice president for external affairs and government relations and chief legislative officer.

The $5 million athletics deficit has grown by $25 million with the loss of PAC-12 ticket sales and uncertainties in funding for sports, such as women’s basketball, Pearson said.

In the coming weeks, WSU will determine how to handle the athletics deficit, said Athletics Director Pat Chun.

Washington Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, helped the Board of Regents overcome punitive legislation for the last five years. Regent member Marty Dickinson said Billig is concerned the steps taken to overcome this deficit have not been going as expected.

Cougs Cancel COVID

Cougs Cancel COVID is a campaign to encourage students to get tested and follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, said Mary Jo Gonzales, WSU vice president of student affairs.

“Shame, blame and discipline does not work,” she said.

It is science-based and research-informed, Gonzalez said. The campaign focuses on education and the impact a student’s behavior makes on the community.

No student hospitalizations and no COVID-19 deaths have occurred in Whitman County, said Jason Sampson, WSU assistant director of environmental services, public health, and sustainability.

The Board of Regents will meet virtually at 8 a.m. Friday.