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WSU runs $13 million deficit for athletics

Pay hikes, bonuses, ex-coach’s buyout felt on bottom line

Uncommon expenditures on coaching salaries, buyouts and debt service left Washington State University’s athletic department with a $13 million deficit at the end of last year.

WSU’s revenue rose from $45.7 million in 2013 to about $47.3 million in 2014. However, the spending on WSU sports soared to $59.7 million last year – $10 million more than in 2013.

The gap is due to richer salaries, bonuses, and the $1.8 million buyout of former basketball coach Ken Bone’s contract. Cougar athletics also added $1 million to the budget for football coaches, and paid contract bonuses to the coaches after WSU made its first bowl game in a decade.

WSU also created fulltime assistant coach positions in its golf programs.

“We expected a sizable deficit as we put our numbers together and then we decided to make it even larger to take care of some things that we felt needed to happen, and with university President (Elson) Floyd’s blessing,” said Bill Moos, WSU athletic director. “For example, the buyout of our men’s basketball coach and the hiring of the new one. Those are pretty big hits.”

WSU also is making payments on bonds that were issued to pay for recent construction projects. Moos said the athletic department expects to be solvent by 2019 and that WSU will not take on any additional debt for future athletic department construction projects.

“The plan is that any additional facilities will be the result of major gifts,” Moos said.

While the university contributed less to its athletic department in 2014 – $7.2 million compared to $7.7 in 2013 – Moos said the number of private donors to the Cougar Athletics Fund helped set a new fundraising record.

The contributions are lower because of specific donations to Phase One of the Martin Stadium renovation that expired.

WSU received about $2.5 million more because of the inception of the college football playoffs than it did in the old BCS system. Schools receive the playoff money regardless of whether or not a Pac-12 school is selected to play.

Moos said all Pac-12 schools will see significant increases in television money from agreements the conference has with ESPN and Fox. The conference saw money, about $1.5 million per school, for the first time from the Pac-12 Networks, a figure that is also projected to increase in coming years.

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