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FAU Football $$$

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FAU Football $$$

Found this in the Sun.

Student fees may rise as costly football program throws FAU for a loss
CareerBuilder
By Jennifer Peltz
Staff Writer

February 10, 2005

Staggering under the hefty cost of football, Florida Atlantic University is talking about hiking student fees, shaving sports spending and borrowing from such sources as student housing rents and bookstore sales.

Acknowledging that ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and donations are falling short of expectations, FAU expects to lose more than $1.7 million on sports this school year. Administrators say they probably will seek to cover the loss temporarily out of the profits of various campus money-makers – student housing, food service, theater rentals, enrichment classes and the like. Those profits ultimately are destined to enhance those enterprises and the money would have to be repaid.

So does more than $1.2 million in bank loans for FAU sports during the past two years, according to FAU finance chief Kenneth Jessell. And the university's fund-raising foundation also expects to recoup about $4.5 million it lent the fledgling Owls in their starting years, says fund-raising director Ann Paton. The foundation also raised $16.3 million in outright donations, she said.

The debts, against a roughly $10 million sports budget, add up to enough to bother some trustees.

A couple made it clear Wednesday they won't keep tolerating red ink, even for a team that put FAU on national television in its third season.

"We all understand the value that the football program has brought to the university," trustee chairwoman Sherry Plymale said. "… [But] we cannot continue this downhill slide."

For students, the shortfall means the prospect of an up to a 17 percent increase in their sports fee, already among the highest in Florida's state university system. All of FAU's roughly 27,000 for-credit students now subsidize sports to the tune of $11.75 per credit, or $282 a year for a full-time undergraduate load of 24 credits. By comparison, the sports fee is $1.90 per credit at the University of Florida, where television and other revenues help underwrite sports teams.

Credit fee increase

Now FAU might ask students for as much as another $2 per credit if trustees and a student-staff committee approve. The fee increase would generate about $1.2 million a year, according to Jessell.

It might not be such a tough sell to Chris Eberhart, a 19-year-old on FAU's baseball team. "[Football] can be the reason that someone picks a school," he reasons.

But Natalie Rogers, a senior majoring in accounting, doesn't appreciate having to pay to support a sport she doesn't like, let alone go to see.

"If they need more money, they should make the football players have some car washes," said Rogers, 28.

Administrators say they're hustling to come up with a broader plan to balance the sports budget next year. They're hinting hopefully about raising ticket sales and contributions, but Jessell said Wednesday they might also shrink football spending.

The Fighting Owls started out thinking big. As soon as FAU got state permission to start the football team in 1999, coach Howard Schnellenberger envisioned quickly attracting crowds of 20,000, building a 42,000-seat stadium on campus and moving into top-flight Division I-A within two years.

Athletically, the team has enjoyed considerable success. The Owls made it to the Division I-AA semi-finals in 2003, started a two-year process of qualifying for Division I-A in 2004 and have been invited to join the Sun Belt conference this coming season.

But FAU has grappled with the cost of its gridiron ambitions. After the football team lost $1.6 million in 2001-2002, the university moved home games from Pro Player Stadium to less expensive Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. But administrators also carved out savings from other sports, reducing the overall sports staff and canceling plans to start a water polo team.

Despite efforts to economize, FAU's sports expenses are rising, largely due to the added scholarships, higher coaching salaries and other costs of bidding for Division I-A football. The athletics budget this year rose 13 percent, to $10.1 million.

FIU problem

Miami-based Florida International University, which started its football team a year after FAU, has seen a similar spurt in costs as it aims for I-A. FIU increased its student sports fees in 2004, soon after a state law specified that state universities could up the fees by as much as $2 per credit to help cover the cost of changing divisions.

FIU Athletic Director Rick Mello says the fee bump balanced FIU's sports budget for now, but the university ultimately will need to increase ticket sales and contributions.

At FAU, "The costs keep rising, the revenues rise incrementally, and we keep getting further and further off-balance," explains its athletic director, Craig Angelos.

Dearth of fans

The Owls averaged less than 10,800 fans per game last fall – a 57-percent jump from the 2003 average, but still well shy of the 15,000 expected of Division I-A teams. With Hurricane Jeanne postponing the team's home opener, ticket sales were more than $150,000 short of projections, although Jessell said that gap was filled by higher-than-expected payments for tournament appearances and taking on very competitive opponents, including in sports other than football.

Meanwhile, sponsorships and fund-raising fell much shorter. FAU expected to log about $2.2 million in contributions and corporate sales this budget year, which ends in June. So far, it has bagged about $179,000.

The university recently hired a fund-raiser to focus on sports: Terry Mohajir, who came from a similar job at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Donations are paying his roughly $75,000-a-year salary, Paton said.

"Everybody is still extraordinarily enthusiastic about this venture," she said. "We're just figuring out how to make it play."

Staff Writers Diane C. Lade and Ted Hutton contributed to this story.

Jennifer Peltz can be reached at [email protected] or 561-243-6636.

Copyright ? 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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FAU Football $$$

All I can say about this article is it takes money to make moneyand to say it is a fledging program is kind of stupid at this point. The program is an infant but is growing stronger everyday. If this was a so so situation not doing good at all someone may have a valid point and I could understand concerns.

Athletics programs as they are added at this level bring a new financial responsibility with some draw backs in the begining. As the program grow so do the rewards. The Prez, Schnell, and the AD are going at it full blast and that is the way to get'r'done.

If the Trustees start cutting and going halfass'd that is the program you will end up with halfass. I'm not saying to ignore fiscal responsibilities but when you are trying to develop and grow the University you have to make some allowances initially.
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FAU Football $$$

I have to believe that adding these marquee teams to our schedule has got to help out financially. Bottom line is that you have to spend money to make it. They'll meet all of their committments.
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FAU Football $$$

I have to go with owlcoholic on this one. These teams this year will bring in the kind of money which will get us going in the right direction. Attendance will be up and the donors will be out in full force.

Football will pay back all which it has borrowed, AND MORE in years to come.

Here's a link to the PB Post article:

ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/02/10/s1a_FAUBALL_0210.html
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FAU Football $$$

Nobody likes to see red, but it is to be expected when you add a major sport like football - if the Trustees give the program its due time, it will generate money that will benefit the University for many, many years to come. Any time you make a commitment like this, you don't get results over night, I just hope they keep their wits about them.

Every major expenditure involves risk as long as so give it a chance the rewards will be there.
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FAU Football $$$

Exactly the point Bytor, FAU has everything in place to be a success. Well almost athe stadium will pretty much do it. Then its just time finish what was started 4 years ago. The Trustees need to sit back and take a deep breath. Things are going to work out, I agree they will get paid back and more.
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FAU Football $$$

I was there before the team was announced (we were given trees and remodled one building), and since the football team has been announced and started playing they have remodled 3 more buildings, built 2 parking garages, built at least 5 new buildings, and are close to builiding a hospital on campus for the new medical program. Maybe the balance sheet for the football team is not on the positive, but balance it out for the exposure, notariety, and other funds coming to the university and the school has made a great deal from football.
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FAU Football $$$

Talon, you are right, the stadium is critical to the future success on this program and not only on the field (proven already), but has the potential to generate money for the program and the school and bring balance back to the program. The early days at Pro Player was a bad deal and but us in a bind, a little to ambitious for a young program, but when you take risk sometimes things don't always work-out short terms, but with a strong foundation these things can be overcomed.

With time things will be grand in Owl Land - fund drive are already in the works to generate money to cover the over expenditure and for the stadium.

In two years this won't even be an issue.
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FAU Football $$$

I'm hearing that, hey they get the right money people it could be sooner (The Trump or that type I mentioned before)
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FAU Football $$$

Proplayer wasn't the first choice, but the owner of the Fusion had power over Lockhart, and wanted way too much money to keep the field looking good for soccer. Wasn't a nice guy, MLS didn't want to loose the South FL team, but couldn't wait to get the owner out of the league.
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