Athletics Over-Expenditures, Increased Tuition Highlight Regents Meeting
By Leslie Chan and Zach Withrow
The University of the Pacific Board of Regents met late last month to go over some of the most pressing matters involving the University. While some of the topics discussed were encouraging, such as the progress of the Pacific Values Initiative, others are sure to make students groan.
Most notably, the Board discussed the recent news that Pacific Athletics overspent its budget by millions of dollars, as well as the fact that tuition in 2019 will be increasing by 3.7%.
The highlights of the Board meeting were released on Wednesday, October 25th. One week later, University President Pamela Eibeck released a statement to the Pacific community addressing the news that Pacific Athletics over-expended its budget for the 2017 fiscal year by $4.2 million.
“The budget overage is significant and puts our institution at risk,” President Eibeck said. “The excessive spending in Athletics diminishes the work of many people across Pacific who have been making hard choices to reduce their spending.”
As a result of the over-expenditures, at least one Athletics employee has left Pacific. University officials declined to name the former employee.
The news does not come at an ideal time for Pacific Athletics, as it was just over a month ago that the NCAA handed down sanctions on the men’s basketball program following an investigation into academic dishonesty by former players and coaches. The University had already self-imposed sanctions, and the NCAA slapped on a $5,000 fine, as well as a requirement to vacate any victories earned in which implicated student-athletes had played.
The following notes regarding the Athletics budget situation were published on the University of the Pacific’s website in the days following the Board of Regents meeting:
“The Board heard a report on Pacific Athletics over-expending its budget by $4.2M in the last fiscal year (FY17), largely due to a lack of adequate internal controls. The individuals involved have left the university and the Division of Business and Finance is working with Athletics to implement several supplemental financial controls and monitors, and additional oversight. The university is also in the process of hiring a budget director for Athletics that will report directly to the university’s Vice President for Business and Finance and provide budget management support to the interim Athletics Director.”
The Pacifican asked newly-appointed interim Athletic Director Wes Yourth about where the over-expended money was actually allocated, and he explained that it is hard to say at this point due to the nature with which the organization makes and spends money.
“There is an analysis being undergone to find out where the discrepancies lie from one fiscal year to the next,” Yourth said. “There are a number of different things that financially we are responsible for; there’s operations, salaries and benefits, and we also offset those expenses with income.”
“So there are many moving pieces,” Yourth continued. “Certain revenue benchmarks were not made [that would have] offset some of the expenses.”
President Eibeck indicated that Yourth has worked closely with the Athletics staff and Business and Finance in order to balance the budget by 2020. Eibeck also noted that Vice President of Business and Finance Ken Mullen “has introduced a comprehensive set of financial controls in Athletics and is approving all Athletics expenditures over $10,000.”
The Pacifican asked Yourth about University’s efforts to improve internal controls in the organization.
“Banner is the system that is used for financial reporting. It kind of spits out data in a very funky way, so we are trying create controls that possess the information in a [way] that we can track from month to month as we move along our fiscal year,” Yourth said.
Along with the unfortunate news about Athletics, the Board of Regents also approved Fiscal Year 2019 tuition rates which “includes a 3.7 percent increase for undergraduate, graduate, Pharmacy and Dental tuition, and 3.0 percent increase for Law tuition,” as was noted in the meeting highlights.
Additionally, the Office of Enrollment Management and Office of Institutional Research “calculated the actual discount rate for incoming freshmen is 49 percent, significantly higher than the 43 percent of unfunded aid budgeted for this fiscal year.”
During an October 4 town hall meeting on tuition, ASuop’ President Grant Kirkpatrick was highly vocal against a proposed 3.9% increase in tuition, which was being considered at the time.
“Students are unsatisfied with the outcomes of the tuition increases and need transparency,” Kirkpatrick said.
He expressed that students are concerned over where the money is going since the University has been consistently raising tuition prices over the past several years.
Overall, although the University states that Athletics intends to balance its budget by reducing spending, the fact that an agreement on the raising of tuition was reached at the same meeting in which a $4.2 million over-expenditure was announced is clearly a look that the University would have rather avoided. With undergraduate costs totaling $45,786 per student, $4.2 million is approximately the cost of 90 students’ tuition.
While there are certainly many things worth celebrating on campus in the wake of Homecoming, it is important to keep tabs on the issues that the University still faces today, and in the days to come.