FAMU athletics tightens purse strings

Florida A&M University athletics is facing a financial problem that came up in a board of trustees meeting on Feb. 12.

In the meeting it was identified that the Athletic department has a $4.2 million deficit to overcome.

The deficit is going to affect all of the sports that consist of FAMU’s athletic department.

In order for the athletic department to eliminate the deficit they have to make changes to cut down on costs and use the athletic department’s money wisely.

One of the changes that the athletic department is putting emphasis on is travel.

The athletic department is trying to keep games that are outside the MEAC conference within a 400-mile limit. 

“It will affect some of our travel and really because of the proximity of some of the games by which we play, having to go to Delaware and Maryland Eastern Shore, that is very costly,” said athletic director William Hayes.

One of the things that Hayes spoke about was the effect of the deficit on  Olympic sports traveling expenses.        

Olympic sports are the main ones they’re trying to keep within a 400-mile radius.

One of the Olympic sports at this time is track and field.

The track team is already feeling the effects of the $4.2 million deficit as it has began to already make changes to work on the financial problem.

Men’s head track coach Rey Robinson stated, “We have to modify our track schedule, that means I canít take as many guys to meets and we canít go to as many meets as I would like to, too prepare.”

The next and most important aspect of college sports is recruiting.

Even though there is the deficit, recruiting will not take a big hit because of the $4.2 million.
Hayes said major sports are in good condition.

“Football scholarships should be at 63 next year, which is the limit for one double A Championship Subdivision, basketball men’s has a full compliment of 13 scholarships and womenís has 15 scholarships.”

Even though the sports are on the right end of the scholarship situation, Hayes stressed the coaches about staying in the state of Florida to recruit.

If the coaches recruit within the state of Florida more, they can cut down on out of state tuition and save more money for the program.

The one sport that doesnít have any monetary restrictions is men’s basketball, is because of guaranteed games.

Guaranteed games are when the lower level team gets paid to play the better and more established team.

“It shouldnít affect basketball because I have raised $650,000 in guarantees,” said head men’s basketball coach Eugene Harris. “In basketball we self support ourselves by playing guaranteed games.”

Another thing the athletic department is trying to do is cut down on the smaller things.

Their main objective is trying to be smart about things like equipment and uniforms.

“In some cases where a team may get a new uniform every year instead we may try to get three years out of a uniform rather than switching,” said Hayes. “We may have to get another year out of a bat or a tennis racket, instead of getting a new one we may to get in restrung.”

With all the changes, the athletic department main priority is still the athlete.

The athletic department wants the players to get the best of the best even though they are having financial problems.

“We are not going to put our athletes in harms way.  We might not stay in the five star or four star hotels but we will stay in the three star hotels,” said Rey Robinson.

We don’t want to short change the student athlete experience, we want the student athlete to have a great experience and compete against some of the top athletes in the country,î said Hayes.

The athletic department is taking steps to cut down on the deficit.

Hayes said they will continue to play against the top opponents to get guaranteed money.

“The most important thing they are doing at this point is marketing,” he said. “They want to continue to sell the athletic program to the consumer and appeal to a broader audience to raise attendance and revenue.”