Friday, April 28, 2006

Save CU Tennis

Wow. This story about the elimination of the men's tennis program at the University of Colorado, Boulder just keeps getting stranger. Originally the program cut was deemed purely a financial decision. The actions of the athletic department of the university before and after the decision call that motivation into question.

First, there no warning, no discussion, and no call to the tennis community, alumni, and families of tennis players to support the program rather than have it cut. The decision was made behind closed doors with no player, coach, student, or alumni involvement. Since the cut the athletic department has seemingly declined opportunities to help the "third party" fundraising effort to save the team. The department even declined to publicize the fundraising effort at all, not even with a link on it's web site until that lack of cooperation was pointed out at a Board of Regents meeting. Even then it took nearly two weeks to even get a link on the site.


The latest missive in all this comes from CU Associate AD and Sports Information Director at CU, David Plati. Reacting to the story Re-Buffed by Peter Dopkin in Tennis Magazine online on the tennis program and it's efforts to survive, a source within the department reports that Plati called the story
"one of the biggest pieces of %@#& I've read in a long time."
You can guess what expletive has been deleted. The piece, while not a glowing endorsement of all that is Colorado athletics, appears to be accurate. Follow the link above and judge for yourself whether that piece deserves Mr. Plati's vitriol.

There must be some reason that a university newly committed to openness and transparency, the words of President Hank Brown, chooses to behave in direct opposition to those qualities. Maybe some time soon we'll learn why.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Colorado Men's Tennis

University of Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn has recommended eliminating men's tennis after this year due to budget concerns. The annual budget of CU men's tennis is $350,000. The entire CU athletic department budget is roughly $36 mil. Instead of totally eliminating a sport, are there any other places to save money? Are there any extraordinary, short term expenses that will not be part of the budget going forward? Let's take those in reverse order.

As a result of Title IX lawsuits stemming from the football recruiting scandal the athletic department's liability insurance premiums doubled. For FY 2007 the premiums will be $831,000 higher than the previous year for a total of $1.66 mil. These extraordinarily high premiums are budgeted to last indefinitely, but should fall again as no new lawsuits are filed and no payments result.

Another monster increase in expenses can be found in Exhibit 6 on page 64 of the draft CU Athletics Business Plan. The monster increase in expenses comes from the Athletic Director's Office line in the budget. For school year 2004-05, the AD's Office expense was $483,925. For school year 2005-06, that line item jumped by $337,375 to $821,300. That jump is roughly equal to the men's tennis budget. But the jump turns out to be more than that. The $821,300 number was the budget before the year began, that number in the current budget for 2005-06 is another $116,525 higher at $937,825. So over the past year, the AD's Office expense line item in the budget has grown by $453,900. That is over $100,000 more than the annual men's tennis budget.

I for one would like an explanation of the massive increase in expenses coming out of the AD's Office, especially since the increased expense from that office greatly exceeds the savings from totally eliminating a sport that CU has managed to sponsor since before WWI.

For more information on the effort to save CU men's tennis, go to the Save CU Tennis web site.