the three state universities, the athletic departments
are considered “auxiliary enterprises,” like
the housing departments or the parking departments
or the student-health facilities. They are not
considered part of the general education operations.
That should tell you something.
As “auxiliary enterprises,” they have separate
budgets that must go to the Board of Regents
each year. English departments and math departments
and engineering schools also have their own
budgets, of course, but they are part of the
universities’ general-education budgets, and
most people, including members of the Board
of Regents, never see them. But the Regents
must approve these auxiliary budgets one by
That’s a good thing.
Or it would be if anyone paid attention.
Which nobody does.
The latest budgets were given to the Regents
this month — there was little or no discussion,
apparently, and little or no press coverage
— and they showed whopping increases at the
University of Iowa and Iowa State University
and continued woes at the University of Northern
Iowa. At Iowa and Iowa State, the increases
in the budgets far outpace the increases for
the academic sides of the schools.
The University of Iowa this year has an “operating”
budget of $650 million, money that will support
the education of the students, the salaries
of the teachers and administrators, the operation
of the library, the student aid and other academic
endeavors. The money comes almost entirely from
tuition and state appropriations. That’s up
$24.2 million, or 3.2 percent, from the fiscal
The university’s athletic budget, however, is
up 7.5 percent — more than twice the rate of
increase for the academic side. The budget is
up because revenue is rising sharply, mainly
because a lucrative Big Ten television deal
made a few years ago rains ever more dollars
on the conference schools. Also, the university
expects revenue from the football operations
to rise nearly 10 percent.
If the English Department or the Engineering
School had such a windfall, the money would
go into the general budget, and the budgeters
would determine how much goes back to those
operations and how much goes elsewhere. But
because athletics are auxiliary enterprises,
the policy — but not the law — is to let them
keep all they take in. Thus, year after year,
the athletic departments turn in expense budgets
that, not coincidentally, spend every single
dollar — not a dollar more, not a dollar less
— that comes in.
This year, the University of Iowa athletic department
expects revenue — and, thus, expenses — of $80,620,771,
up from a budgeted number of $74,942,716 a year
ago. Of that money, a minimum of $5.5 million
— and probably a lot more — will go to the top
two coaches, football’s Kirk Ferentz and basketball’s
Fran McCaffery. McCaffery’s $1.7 million salary
accounts for a third of the basketball operation’s
$5.1 million in expenses. And those expenses
exceed by $2.3 million the revenue the sport
brings in, though television money is not apportioned
out by sport. Ferentz’ $3.8 million base pay
(he could make much more if the team is good)
is 21 percent of the $18 million or so the football
program will spend. But even without counting
TV and conference money, the football program
will make close to $4 million.
Every other sport loses money. Wrestling this
year expects revenue of $475,000 and expenses
of $1,292,938. All other men’s sports — baseball,
golf, tennis, track, etc. — will have revenue
of just $12,000 and expenses of $4,324,011.
All women’s sports will bring in $211,000 in
revenue but will have expenses of $12,831,372.
The university will pay women’s basketball coach
Lisa Bluder a minimum of $509,000, with the
possibility of $500,000 or so in incentives.
(For instance, she’ll receive $50,000 if Iowa
wins 65 percent of its games, and $35,000 if
it is invited to the NCAA tournament.) Her final
pay will likely end up being three times the
$185,000 in revenue the sport is budgeted to
bring in. It was budgeted at that number last
year, too, but it probably ended up around $170,000.
Incredibly — or, at least, incredibly to Skinny
— the university was money ahead last fiscal
year by missing its revenue budget in women’s
basketball. At $170,000 revenue, Bluder got
no bonus based on ticket sales. If it had been
$175,000, though, she would have gotten $20,000
— meaning the extra $5,000 in revenue would
have cost the university $20,000 in bonus pay.
This year, Bluder gets a $20,000 bonus if revenue
comes in $10,000 below budget. That is, if revenue
is $175,000, she gets the bonus. If it’s $200,000,
she gets a $35,000 bonus. Again, the economics
are goofy: If revenue this year tops last year’s
revenue by $30,000, Bluder gets a $35,000 bonus.
Her contract is, at several points, a disincentive
for the university to sell tickets to women’s
basketball games. (Bluder also gets two cars,
a fistful of tickets to football and men’s basketball
games, free travel and meals for her family
for road trips, and the like.)
At Iowa State, the situation is much the same.
The operating budget for the university this
fiscal year is $508 million, up 5.7 percent
from fiscal 2012. The athletic budget is $56,708,410,
up 22.8 percent from the $46,144,310 budgeted
for the fiscal year that ended June 30. (In
fact, revenue actually came in at an estimated
$50,436,961 because of a conference TV deal.
But the university found ways to spend that
extra $4 million.) As at Iowa, football is a
big profit center at Iowa State, where — not
counting conference and TV revenue — the program
is expected to bring in $8,260,943 in revenue
and spend $2,795,000. The biggest expenditure
is the salary of Coach Paul Rhoads, who is guaranteed
a minimum of $1.7 million and who will get another
$200,000 if the team wins at least seven games.
Similarly, the largest expense in men’s basketball
is the $1.2 million guaranteed to coach Fred
Hoiberg. That’s about 85 percent of the entire
basketball budget of $1,415,000. Revenue for
the sport is budgeted at $2,325,000. Women’s
basketball at Iowa State brings in three times
the revenue that the University of Iowa women
bring in, with budgeted income this year of
$530,000. Longtime Coach Bill Fennelly will
earn at least $575,000, accounting for the bulk
of the sport’s expenses of $864,400.
By most accounting methods, the athletic departments
at Iowa and Iowa State are self-supporting.
Until a few years ago, sports budgets at both
universities were subsidized from the universities’
general funds; that is, money from tuition and
from state appropriations was used to help fund
athletics, as is still the case at the University
of Northern Iowa.
In fiscal 2001, for instance, the University
of Iowa had an athletic budget of $25,750,500,
and that included $1,925,000 of “university
general support.” Iowa State had an athletic
budget of $19,917,249, and that included “university
support” of $2,345,424. UNI had an athletic
budget of $6,155,214, including “general university
support” of $2,921,814.
In fiscal 2001, the University of Iowa had a
general operating budget of $414,357,723. Thus,
since 2001, the university’s general operating
budget has gone up 57 percent while its athletic
budget has gone up more than 200 percent. In
fiscal 2001, Iowa State had an operating budget
of $397 million. So its general budget has risen
28 percent while its athletic budget has gone
up 185 percent.
Even at UNI, which gets no windfall from television
or bowl games, athletic spending has outpaced
academic spending. In 2001, the university’s
general operating budget was $130 million and
its athletic budget was $6.1 million, including
university support of $2.9 million. This year,
its general budget is $165 million and its athletic
budget is $11.5 million, still with around $3
million of university support. Over the years,
the general budget has increased 27 percent
while the athletic budget has gone up 88 percent.
Sooner or later, someone will look into this
and probably tie future increases in athletic
budgets to increases in the universities’ general
operating budgets. At the University of Iowa,
if the athletic budget this coming year were
limited to the same increase as the general
budget, the athletic department would return
$3,279,889 to the university — money that could,
among other things, provide full-tuition scholarships
for 437 needy Iowa students.
Another possibility, suggested by a guy intimately
familiar with university finances, would be
to make the athletic departments pay the universities
for, in effect, use of their names. The athletic
departments charge others lots of money for
the use of school trademarks — Herky or Cy or
other symbols — and, this guy says, turnabout
is fair play. The teams would be nothing if
they couldn’t use the school names — “Iowa”
and “Iowa State.” Charge the athletic departments
for those uses, he suggests.
At any rate, nothing is likely to happen until
there is a budget crisis even worse than the
one the universities are weathering now, but
sooner or later someone — a Regent or a legislator
or a courageous university president — will
start looking at the numbers. They’ll be amazed
at what they see. ...
News, of sorts: Bob Vander Plaats is moving
to Grimes after living in Sioux City for 16
years. After losing the GOP gubernatorial nomination
two years ago to Terry Branstad, he apparently
has no plans to run again. “I really believe
God called me to lead The Family Leader,” the
group that helped throw out three Iowa Supreme
Court justices two years ago, Vander Plaats
told The Sioux City Journal. God sent him to
a pretty lucrative job, apparently. Word is
the new house costs around $400,000. ...
Jack Hatch, the Democratic legislator from Des
Moines, apparently is thinking of running for
The Des Moines Public Schools now list all public-records
requests on its Web site. Since July 8, there
have been 17 requests. Six have been from former
superintendent Nancy Sebring, whose graphic
e-mails in a very public affair with John Hintz
pretty much ended her career as an administrator,
and five have been from her twin sister, Nina
Rasmussen, whom Sebring hired to run the charter
school. The most interesting: Rasmussen’s request
for “all emails between John Hintz and Nancy
Sebring.” Sebring, Rasmussen and the charter
school now all are history within the district.
Cityview joins those mourning the death last
week of reporter-lawyer-professor Barbara Mack.
Mack was at times the earth mother, at times
the nun-like teacher ready to rap your knuckles
with a ruler, at times the quick-thinking courtroom
lawyer — and always this towering irrepressible
woman with strong views and a soft heart.
She was at least six-feet-tall in her stocking
feet, and once, around 1970 when she was in
her late teens and working as an assistant in
the Des Moines Register newsroom, she went up
to an elderly, popular, five-foot-six editor
at the paper. “How long have you worked here?”
she asked him. “Around 40 years,” he replied.
“In those 40 years,” she said, “has anyone ever
just picked you up and given you a big hug right
in the middle of the newsroom?” “Not that I
recall,” he said. “Then let me be the first.”
And she grabbed him, hoisted him up and gave
him a huge bear hug.
By that time, he didn’t know the names of most
of the young people in the newsroom. But he
never forgot hers until the day he died at 102.
“She was unforgettable,” he said every time
he told the story.
And she was. CV