Gophers’ travel savings a home run

More can be done to ensure efficient spending in athletics departments.

For its final game of the 2009 regular season, the Gophers football team took a bus instead of a plane to Iowa. This single decision saved them $70,000. We encourage easy ways to save costs and applaud the football team for this decision. However, athletics decisions donâÄôt always have cost in mind. This past Sept. 11, football head coach Tim Brewster chartered a helicopter to recruit at multiple high school games. The menâÄôs and womenâÄôs basketball teams will spend almost $750,000 on charter flights this year. If one of our 25 athletics programs can save $70,000 with a single, simple decision about travel, imagine how much the entire athletics department can save in total by making smart, cost-saving decisions. The football teamâÄôs belts ought to be tighter than most teams, however, given that the University just built a $288 million stadium for them and passes on some of that cost to students. With a stadium fee of $12.50 per student, per semester and a student body of approximately 50,000, the University asks students to contribute $1.25 million collectively each year to a stadium the football team uses about eight times per year. If the football team has $70,000 of potential waste from a single trip to Iowa, it owes it to the rest of the student body to eliminate waste everywhere in its budget. It is unfair to ask students, who are now the UniversityâÄôs largest source of revenue, to shoulder the financial burden of a state-of-the-art stadium while the team it ostensibly benefits spends carelessly. Athletics departments should join the rest of the University in aggressively trimming excess costs out of their operating budgets.