As the director of athletics, I take great pride when our athletes succeed in their sport and in the classroom. During my tenure, 354 student-athletes have obtained their degrees, WKU has captured 25 total conference championships, and the athletic department staff, coaches and players have devoted over 4,000 hours of community service. The depth of WKU’s success makes us one of the nation’s most successful all-around athletics programs as the 25 conference championships have been won by 12 different sport programs.
Thus, anytime we have to endure reductions in our budget, it is disappointing, challenging and frustrating. And since I was named director of athletics in 2012, athletics has had close to $4 million in reductions to our budget.
This is the result of the combination of state budget cuts and an annual decline in student fee revenue, which is tied directly to enrollment. Managing and overcoming this has become enormously challenging, and the days of making easy cuts have long since passed.
Due to the current campuswide budget cuts coupled with a decline in student fee revenue for the fifth consecutive year, athletics is now faced with a number of tough decisions yet again. One of those decisions is reducing the budget for our track and cross-country programs. The program currently has a $1.5 million budget, the third largest of our sport programs. Previous cuts over the last four years have spared the track program, unlike golf and tennis and many of our administrative areas. I share in the frustration of our track team, and no one feels good about these challenges.
I along with our administration are working directly with the program to attempt to make the best out of a difficult situation. We will be here to help in any way we can.
Unlike cuts in previous years, this time no sport program will be eliminated. While we will be funding them at a lower level, our men’s and women’s cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track programs will remain, and we will continue to compete in Conference USA. This budget process has just begun, and any cuts will not take effect until July 1, so any firm conclusions being drawn by anyone are premature.
Certainly it is disappointing for me to reduce the budget of a successful program, but we must balance our budget, and this is the manner in which we need to do it. My hope is that better days are ahead and we have a more favorable overall budget picture at some point in the future.
Director of Athletics