WSU athletic department figures to lose more than $10 million again, but plan in place to get solvent

The recovery plan leans heavily on institutional support, increases in contributions, maximizing gate revenue from football and basketball, and perhaps, in the near future, beer sales at Martin Stadium and a student fee.

At the end of June, the Washington State University athletic department will likely close out the 2017 fiscal year with a budget deficit of $10.6 million, making this the fourth-consecutive year it has finished more than $10 million in the red.

University officials say this grim financial situation resulted from a calculated gamble to upgrade athletic facilities and coaching talent at WSU.

But the deficit spending must stop, officials say, and WSU has devised a plan to do that by 2021.

The recovery plan leans heavily on institutional support, increases in contributions, maximizing gate revenue from football and basketball, and perhaps, in the near future, beer sales at Martin Stadium and a student fee.

Continued athletic success would help too.

“We’re intent on getting our operation back in the black by 2021. We’re serious about it,” WSU athletic director Bill Moos said. “It was part of our overall game plan when we invested in athletics earlier on after I got here, knowing full well we’d create some debt and that we’d have to have a plan from the beginning to pull out of it. … I really like the direction we’re going.”

The $10.6 million estimated deficit for 2017 exceeds the $9.7 million deficit WSU projected in September, when Moos and WSU President Kirk Schulz first presented the WSU board of regents with a recovery plan to get the athletic department solvent. But it represents some progress, university officials say.

The previous three years the deficits were $12.9 million, $13.2 million and 13.7 million.

The university has covered the athletic department’s deficit over…

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