Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:30 am
Sorry to ressurrect such an old thread, but I saw the following blog post and it raised some interesting issues:http://louisianavoice.com/2010/10/03/louisiana-tech-delusions-of-football-mediocrity/
In short, after already experiencing significant budget cuts over the last two years, all of the public Louisiana schools have been asked to plan for another cut of approximately 35% in their 2011-2012 budgets allotments from the state. According to the blogger, LaTech subsidized their athletic budget in 2009-10 with a transfer of $4.65 million from "unrestricted funds and from other activities"; the crux of the issue is of course the size of the subsidy versus the anticipated size of the looming budget cuts. In the blogger's opinion:
... the bloated athletic programs of the three schools are becoming a serious drain on academics. With anticipated budget cuts mandated by Governor Jindal, it’s time the three universities take a critical look at their respective priorities. More cuts are coming and it’s going to hurt. It’s already hurting. There is simply no way the academic programs can withstand further transfers of millions of dollars to prop up reeling, stumbling, faltering athletic programs.
(The three universities in question are LaTech, UL-Monroe, and Grambling.) Putting aside the question as to whether or not their athletic program budget really is bloated, LaTech clearly is going to be faced with some hard decisions should the anticipated budget cuts for 2011-12 come to pass. Here are my questions/thoughts:
- Assuming that their univeristy budget does get cut, does LaTech finally make the decision to get out of the WAC in order to get some athletic budget relief? In this older article, it is indicated that LaTech only made a small cut to its athletic budget in order to deal with a previous university budget cut, so they could certainly try to do that again. But given that even LSU is talking about eliminating 50 degree programs due to these projected cuts, I can't imagine LaTech getting away with only small cuts in athletics -- their academics would have to get decimated otherwise.
- How much can LaTech save by leaving the WAC? Hard to say, especially since this depends a lot on where they end up. Presumably, the travel budget improves by leaving the WAC, and landing in a conference with more local rivals (as the blogger seems to want) could improve ticket income. But leaving the WAC could cut into conference revenue distributions (TV, bowls, NCAA bball tournament money, etc.). I'm going to make a stab in the dark and say that leaving the WAC ends up saving LaTech enough to justify the move but not enough to completely fix its athletic budget.
- Where would LaTech go? It's always been presumed that LaTech wanted to get into Conference USA, but I don't think Conference USA would take LaTech -- unless the Big East finally decides to make a play for one of the CUSA members, I don't see any openings popping up in the conference anytime soon, and growing beyond 12 members doesn't make any financial sense, especially since LaTech really doesn't give CUSA any new major markets. On the other hand, the Sun Belt might be more receptive -- Denver's presumed exit to the WAC would make an opening, and LaTech's football program would probably improve the Sun Belt's profile in that sport (especially once South Alabama comes on line in 2013). From LaTech's perspective, travel is definitely improved (only the two Florida schools are really long trips) and they would gain some regional rivals. Yes, the talk of the internet fanboards is that LaTech looks down on Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette, but do the respective university presidents and athletic directors really feel this way? I'm guessing no, and so I'm leaning towards the guess that LaTech tries to get into the Sun Belt.
- What about going into FCS football and the Southland Conference? Certainly this gives the potential for signifcant savings (fewer scholarships, reduced distance for travel) but also hits the revenue side (virtually no BCS money, for example). A definite drop in "prestige", however much value you care to assign to that. If UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette were planning to make a move to the Southland (perhaps as a consequence of their own budget problems), I could see LaTech moving with them, as the Sun Belt loses some appeal with the loss of the two Louisiana schools. Otherwise, I think LaTech tries to stay in FBS if at all possible.
- Even if LaTech decided to leave the WAC, could they get out in time? Presumably, they would want to leave before the start of the 2011 academic year in order to implement the savings as soon as possible. However, given how hard the WAC is fighting Fresno St. and Nevada to keep them in the league for 2011, could the WAC really justify letting LaTech go without some sort of financial compensation (which presumably kills off any savings)? My guess is that LaTech stays for 2011 but tries to get out by 2012.
- How does the WAC feel about all of this? If this were all happening a year ago, the WAC office is probably secretly cheering, as this would solve a definite geographic problem for their conference. Today, however, survival takes precidence over geography, and losing LaTech makes the WAC's long-term health more doubtful, especially if Montana decides not to make the jump. Ultimately, the WAC can't be happy about this development, and I wonder if they would be willing to do something to help out LaTech financially, at least over the short-term.
Regards, Driver 8