NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The COVID-19 pandemic has not only taken a hit on American’s health. It has also taken a hit on budgets.
Universities are seeing setbacks in their fiscal years that start in September. Stephen F. Austin approved their Fiscal Year 2021 budget earlier this week and over all the university is seeing a decrease of $15 million due to several different issues. All related to COVID-19.
To put that number into perspective that decrease in revenue to the total SFA budget is nearly the entire athletic budget for the year of $15.2 million. The university received $3.1 million in CARES act funding. Vacant positions were eliminated to save $6 million. They also instituted travel restrictions and vacation furloughs. All that and a few other minor cuts brought that deficit down to $2.2 million before the school started reducing department budgets.
In the current 2020 fiscal year the athletic department saw a budget cut of $441,000. For the upcoming 2021 year, Athletic Director Ryan Ivey stated that there would be an additional $256,000 cut.
The program also had some unforeseen expenses from grants expiring and needing to provide additional financial aid to the student athletes granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA due to losing their season. Even with scholarships for athletes Ivey said over half of them in the program have to pay out of pocket at some point.
“They are paying in some form or fashion to be here,” Ivey said. “They are doing it because they want to be here and they do it because they love to be here.”
SFA is not the only institution in this position. Universities around the nation are facing budget concern. At least Eighteen Division I schools have cut at least one of their sports programs. Stanford is the biggest school to do so cutting 11 programs.
“This is not just an SFA problem,” Ivey said. “This is an issue that we are all dealing with across multiple industries around the world.”
Ivey and the school are holding out hope that their football game at SMU will take place. If the American Athletic Conference cancels non-conference games for their member schools than SFA would lose out on a $375,000 pay day.
Still with all the uncertainty the athletic program is pushing forward, keeping all their sports and are continuing to move forward on projects including a new basketball performance center, a pitching lab and new grandstands at the soccer field.
“I have always said that athletics is the front porch of an institution,” Ivey said. “There is a whole house attached to that porch but we are the front porch. This example of us being committed to make sure we are not taking away opportunities for students and opportunities for them to have success later on should go with that commitment that our university has to student success.”