As 2018 has finally ended, we are now able to see reports related to the state of our university in the past year. The University of Connecticut is well-known for its athletic programs, specifically the basketball teams that generate plenty of media attention and make the UConn experience one that is often geared towards sporting events. However, after the past year, UConn’s athletic programs are going to be known less for their ability to produce championship-winning teams and more for their ability to lose money.
This past year, the athletic department spent $80,905,645 while only making $40,418,969. This means they spent approximately double the amount they made. It doesn’t take a business major to realize this is a huge problem.
However, this issue is multifaceted and there is not one sole cause or solution that will help UConn make up for this deficit in the future. Instead, there are many reasons that the university is bearing this burden of a humongous debt and therefore, multiple strategies we can and should attempt to alleviate it.
There is no way to avoid the fact that UConn’s football program has played a large role in the size of the deficit. Last year, they were the team that lost the most money (a whopping total of $8.7 million) and did not play nearly well enough for anyone to forgive that amount.
However, many people attribute the football team’s problem not just with the fact that they perform so poorly, but place the blame on the fact that they, along with UConn basketball, are in the wrong conference. Ever since the original Big East Conference broke up, UConn athletics has been losing money, specifically through their football and basketball teams. To put it simply, the realignment of this conference has caused UConn to lose money through their broadcasting deals and ticket sales, among other things.
Due to the failure of this conference to meet the needs of the university’s athletics, some have called for UConn to leave the AAC and join a conference that will make them more profitable, such as the new Big East Conference. However, this switch would effectively put our football team in limbo, making it an unpopular option with some.
Another option that has been brought up by the UConn athletic director is the idea to eliminate a few of the smaller athletic programs, as they lost a combined total of $22.3 million last year and do little to bring in revenue for the school.
However, getting rid of some of these programs would not come close to ending the gap in revenue and spending that UConn incurred last year. Instead, using this strategy would simply displace students who are part of these programs and lessen our university’s environment as one driven largely by our athletics.
There is no easy way to pull UConn athletics out of the hole it has dug itself into with this absurdly large deficit. However, it is clear that the issue stems from a variety of causes, one of the main ones being the unsuccessful conference that we are currently in. If we want to do better in 2019 (which we should all sincerely hope we do), we need to do more than debate about our options and start acting to clear ourselves from this financial ruin.