Cougar Athletics projects $11.5M budget deficit

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you have already seen, WSU Athletics is anticipating an $11.5 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2023. Among the factors contributing to the shortfall are decreases in Pac‑12 revenue distributions, lower-than-projected revenues for Cougar Athletics, and operational costs that have exceeded the approved budget.

Cougar Athletics is collaborating closely with the Office of Finance and Administration to manage financial operations. Our primary objective is to improve budget monitoring and financial transparency by implementing additional accountability measures and ensuring that this is a one‑year issue and not a recurring problem.

I know this is disheartening news, particularly in a year where we expected to fully recover our Athletics budget after the toll the pandemic took on our internal revenues.

As a leadership team, we are committed to financial responsibility, which includes maintaining a balanced budget and establishing adequate reserves. We will be discussing the Athletics budget at length with our Board of Regents later this week and are instituting monthly budget meetings with a member of the Board of Regents and a representative from the Faculty Senate moving forward.

As we finish this academic year, let me remind everyone that it has, generally, been a really strong year for WSU. We expect to eclipse $150 million or more in philanthropic activity, we received unprecedented support from legislators in Olympia, and all indications are that our overall system enrollment is trending upwards after three years of diminished enrollments. I don’t want to minimize the financial challenges of Cougar Athletics, but I do want to remind everyone that we will go into the Fall 2023 semester with a lot of positive momentum.

I will keep you apprised as we continue our comprehensive review of Athletics finances and finalize plans to repay the cumulative deficit. I will also be providing quarterly financial updates to the WSU community for the upcoming 2023–24 academic year.

I hope everyone has a productive summer with some time away from work to recharge. As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns.

President, WSU System