FAMU athletic departments struggle with deficit

The Florida A&M University athletic department has been struggling with its deficit for quite some time. The university acquired this problem in 2004 when the school decided to take their athletic programs to Division 1-A.

This deficit plagued former FAMU President James H. Ammons during his tenure. The tremendous debt within the athletic department has retarded the progress of the entire university. Money is taken from other departments to reduce the deficit.

The deficit has climbed to $6.7 million over the past eight years, and it continues to drain the university’s resources. University officials developed a plan to relinquish the deficit in 2009, but it has been unsuccessful thus far.

Part of the plan was to increase athletic fees. At the time, FAMU’s athletic fees were the least in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the fourth least in the state. They’ve raised fees each year, but to no avail.

Another phase of this plan was to increase contributions to fundraisers, such as FAMU Boosters, the 1000 Strikers fund raising campaign, golf tournaments and annual fundraising initiatives. By bolstering these sources of revenue, university officials believed the deficit could be relieved.

This has also failed to produce significant results. Over the past three years, the deficit has been reduced by $200,000, leaving a total of $6.5 million.

Athletic director Derek Horne has done his best to deal with the deficit. He has been the athletic director at FAMU since 2010. Horne said the university and the athletic department are doing all they can to reduce the deficit.

“It is our goal to move forward with our outstanding programs, rather than dwell on the lack of profits,” said Horne.

FAMU is not the only school dealing with deficits within their athletic department. A recent report by the NCAA concluded that only 14 of 120 schools in the FBS made money last year. If teams are suffering like this at the highest level, imagine those on the lower levels.

 In the midst of our financial struggles, the football team has gotten new uniforms, which cost an estimated $10,000. This is after Russell Athletics, who is under contract with the MEAC promised to provide new uniforms at no cost. Where does the department find money to afford such expenses with this deficit?

 Men’s head track coach Wayne Angel said that he was aware of the deficit, but it has not affected him. The deficit has had no impact on his recruiting or the events his team has been able to participate in.

“The guys in administration have really made it work,” said Angel. “It really hasn’t affected us.”

 With the recent resignation of chief financial officer and vice president Teresa Hardee, this issue has more significance. Hopefully the university can figure out a way to effectively erase this deficit.