Cougar Athletics budget update

Dear Colleagues,

WSU has made steady progress toward balancing the athletics budget the past several years. Unfortunately, though, we are facing tremendous headwinds that will make closing out fiscal year 2023 more challenging than expected.

As has already been widely reported, each Pac‑12 university will see a significant decrease in revenue distribution. This decrease is a result of overpayments from one of the conference media partners that must be resolved. Relocation of the Pac‑12 headquarters out of San Francisco exceeded budget projections as well. Additionally, WSU projects that Cougar Athletics exceeded its expenditures for the year due to inadequate documentation of revenues and expenses.

Director of Athletics Pat Chun shared with athletics staff earlier today immediate actions that will be implemented to help offset the projected deficit. Among others, these actions include a temporary freeze on all current and future vacant positions until further review, as well as a pause on non-essential travel, purchases, and new professional development.

These fiscal measures impact athletics only and will not affect upcoming salary increases for WSU faculty and staff.

Under the close guidance of Leslie Brunelli, executive vice president of finance and administration, WSU is conducting a thorough review to determine the full extent of the most recent deficit and its root cause. Cougar Athletics will partner with the Office of Finance and Administration to ensure a detailed reporting of FY23 and a balanced budget for FY24. This information will be presented during June’s Board of Regents meeting.

My fiscal expectations for Cougar Athletics remain the same — an annual balanced operating budget, the development of appropriate reserve funds, and a repayment plan to pay down internal debt. As planned, we will also continue to engage in conversations with the Athletics Council in the fall around repayment of accumulated debt.

I remain committed to transparency about the Cougar Athletics budget and improving the fiscal health of the university. We will move forward solutions and additional accountability measures when we have further discussions next month.

Thank you, again, for all that you do. And as always, Go Cougs.

President, WSU System