UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII ATHLETICS
UH athletics facing deficit
The Hawaii athletic department may avoid slipping deeper into the red in the current fiscal year, but athletic director Jim Donovan anticipates the department taking a loss in 2009.
Donovan said the department could face a deficit of about $1.7 million for 2009 based on projected expenses and revenues. The loss would add to a cumulative deficit estimated at a minimum of $4.5 million.
"The budget in the near term is a challenge, and it's a challenge we're going to start to address," said Donovan, who was hired in March and will soon sit down with department staff to work out the specifics in dealing with the department's money issues.
Donovan said the department, which has operated on a $26 million annual budget, would have encountered a similar deficit for the 2008 fiscal year if not for the payout from the Warrior football team's appearance in the Sugar Bowl, about $2.3 million after expenses.
Donovan said the budget for the upcoming year will be set at the end of June or in early July.
"I anticipate the (deficit) number to change as we do different things to address it," he said.
"It really encompasses enhancing existing revenue streams and finding new revenue streams."
While the projections include estimates on gate receipts from UH's revenue-generating sports, the department can count on $2.3 million per year from a television rights deal with KHNL/KFVE and Oceanic Time Warner Cable announced on Tuesday. The three-year contract with KHNL/KFVE set to expire next month paid UH a minimum of $1.75 million per year.
He also cited the unsold seats in the school's playing venues as the department's biggest source of potential revenue.
UH has ongoing campaigns for new season-ticket sales for football and men's basketball and the department is looking at lowering prices in certain sections -- the end zones at Aloha Stadium and the upper levels at the Stan Sheriff Center and Les Murakami Stadium -- in an effort to fill those seats.
The school announced it has received deposits from 961 fans, accounting for 2,800 new season-ticket sales for football for the 2008 season.
"The easiest way (to help) is to buy season tickets or come out to a game," Donovan said.
Donovan wouldn't rule out the possibility of selling tickets for sports that don't currently charge admission, such as softball, down the road. But added that such a move would be weighed against maintaining the current fan base for those teams.