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Reduction in state funding likely won’t affect NDSU athletics

FARGO -- The slashing of state-funded budgets has already started across the state of North Dakota. But it's too early to tell whether that will filter down to North Dakota State athletics.Athletic director Matt Larsen said his department is in t...

FARGO - The slashing of state-funded budgets has already started across the state of North Dakota. But it’s too early to tell whether that will filter down to North Dakota State athletics.
Athletic director Matt Larsen said his department is in the process of finalizing its budget for 2016-17 and it appears it will increase slightly from this year’s $20.1 million. That would most likely mean an increase in external revenues to fund the difference since the amount the athletic department has gotten from the university through state-appropriated funds has remained flat the last two years.
“Who knows what the future will hold, but we feel pretty good about the position that we’re in,” Larsen said. “I think the next biennium will tell you a lot to be honest in terms of what the state budget is going to look like.”
The NDSU president’s office said in a statement through spokesman Laura McDaniel that planning for the governor’s call for a 90 percent budget for the 2017-19 biennium is just beginning and at this point “any and all parts of campus are on the table for consideration.”

And because of that, the athletic department is in a holding pattern of sorts. If there is a continued reduction in state funds, Larsen said it’s the university’s decision how it will affect athletics.
The athletic department received $6.9 million in state and local funds in 2015-16, a figure that hasn’t gone up in more than two years. It’s put more pressure on raising external revenues since the budget has gone up and state funds have remained static. So to make up for the difference, the athletic department has increased its revenues from external sources like advertising, corporate sponsorships, licensing, ticket sales, donations, NCAA revenue distribution and game guarantees.
“Those are the big drivers right there,” Larsen said.
Ticket sales accounted for $2.9 million and the NCAA distributed $733,100. Gifts and other revenue, by far, are the biggest cash rolls at $8.1 million. The athletic department received $1.4 million from student fees and not helping its budget flow was the rejection by the NDSU Student Finance Advisory Board for a student fee increase. The plan was to phase in a $100 increase per student over three years to mainly help fund travel and equipment that would have upped the contribution to $2.9 million per year.
NDSU’s travel expenditures of $3.04 million this year accounted for a big chunk of the $8.9 budgeted for operating expenses and equipment.
Scholarships for NDSU athletes are funded by Team Makers booster group and are not included in state funds. This year, the group raised $3.85 million to account for scholarship expenditures of $3,797,300.
So with this year’s revenues meeting expenses and the same forecasted for next year, Larsen said there is no concern to take any drastic cutting measures like eliminating a sport. The University of North Dakota made headlines earlier this spring when it dropped baseball and men’s golf citing a reduction in state funding.
“Clearly, the last thing we would want to do is drop sports,” Larsen said. “I think all of our sports right now compete at a high level and we’ve been able to fund them at a high level and that will continue to be our goal.”

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