Maturi maintains balanced budget for athletics

Gopher Athletics relies heavily on ticket sales from three sports.

by Cali Owings

Senior Assistant Athletics Director Liz Eull addressed the challenges University of Minnesota Athletics will face in the upcoming year and the progress the department has recently made at a University Board of Regents committee meeting Thursday. Before Joel Maturi became athletics director in 2002, a report to the board projected a deficit of $31 million for the athletics department by the end of the 2007-2008 fiscal year. The department has maintained a balanced budget every year since the 2002-2003 fiscal year. âÄúItâÄôs a great sign that theyâÄôve made strong progress while operating with less funding from the University,âÄù Regent Richard Beeson said. He added that moving toward a self-sustaining model for Gopher Athletics is the goal. Regent Steven Hunter congratulated the department for their smart decision making and ability to maintain 25 teams without asking for additional financial assistance from the University. Tickets to events are the departmentâÄôs largest source of revenue. Ninety-five percent of all ticket revenues for 2009-10 are attributed to football, menâÄôs hockey and menâÄôs basketball according to the Gophers Athletics report to the board. Eull said one of the challenges in moving forward is to maintain the three revenue-producing teams to an extent that they can support the remaining 22 teams. She also said she hopes the department does not have to eliminate programs as she has seen other schools do. âÄúI would hate for us to get to the point where we focus only on a few revenue producing sports,âÄù Hunter said. The potential expansion of the Big Ten Conference will have financial implications for the UniversityâÄôs program. While the expansion has been discussed, no details have been solidified. It is not in the interest of the Big Ten to expand in a way that does not maintain or increase the level of profit for teams, Eull said. âÄúWithout [the Big Ten Conference] Gophers Athletics would be very different,âÄù she said.