NIU to reduce athletic funds

By Eric Krol

The NIU athletic department is prepared for the financial future despite budget cuts and a pledge from NIU President John La Tourette to move university money away from the sports program.

Next year’s internal budget process has started, and although no specific figures are available yet, La Tourette said NIU is looking for ways to reduce university funds to the athletic department. “We have put in place a plan to reduce athletic department dependence on the university budget,” he said.

“An increasing part will be provided by external funding,” La Tourette said. There will be a meeting in February to discuss the matter, he added.

NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell said he is ready to meet any changes.

“First of all, we are entrepreneurial,” O’Dell said. The athletic department continually finds funding sources outside of the university, he said.

Athletics, like all NIU departments, has had to make budget cuts because of the state fiscal crisis. However, O’Dell said he is ready to deal with any future cuts and less money from NIU. “We are prepared for any reductions involving athletics even if we don’t recover the money in the future,” O’Dell said.

Despite the recession, O’Dell said replacing the university money will not be a problem. “I don’t anticipate us not generating money,” he said.

Outside funding for NIU athletics increased by 57 percent from December 1990 to December 1991, O’Dell added. Part of the large increase might be due to the revenue from last year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Associate Athletic Director Keith Hackett said it would not be profitable for NIU to drop down to Division I-AA.

La Tourette said the measure would save about $290,000 while costing NIU about $500,000 in revenues.

evenue would be lost from gate receipts, guarantees for away games and television and radio money, O’Dell said.

Costs for food are on the rise, however. The football program held the first of two recruiting weekends for “prospective student athletes” last weekend, Hackett said.

The cost of the weekend was greater than last year. The price of the Saturday night dinner jumped $3 per person this year, Hackett said.

The cost for the banquet, which was held in the Holmes Student Center Skyroom, was $16.95 per person, with an estimated attendance of 55 people. Hackett said there were nine or ten recruits and their parents along with football coaches and other officials.

As far as the cost involved, Hackett said the money is all budgeted and added, “What we’re trying to do is compete in Division I, so I don’t think we can take them to the Sizzler.”

“We want to keep as much money on campus as possible,” Hackett said.

The Saturday lunch usually was provided free by the owner of University Plaza but he passed away recently, Hackett said.

The would-be recruits stayed overnight in the student center guest rooms Friday and Saturday nights at $37 a night, he said.