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Athletics will show profit at year's end

By Andrea Kelly
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday November 24, 2003
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UA athletics will make a profit this year despite paying for a new football coach, UA athletics officials reported to the Arizona Board of Regents at Friday's meeting.

Jim Livengood, director of the athletics department, said the department is headed in the right direction, and that there would be no budget problems at the end of the fiscal year.

The football department will end with $100,000 this year, after expecting to be $800,000 ahead before head football coach John Mackovic was fired in October, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

"We will be balanced," Livengood said. "We will be in the black on June 30, 2004."

He said the department is focusing on expenditures and salaries.

Likins said he and Livengood have an agreement on the budget.

"He cannot bring a deficit to me at the end of the year," Likins said.

This contrasts with ASU's athletic department, which has been wrestling with debt while trying to help student athletes achieve their academic and athletic goals.

"The debt is being reduced," said ASU President Michael Crow, pledging to meet the regents' requests, no matter how drastic.

"If the regents feel the debt should be eliminated this fiscal year, it will be," Crow said.

Gene Smith, the athletic director at ASU, said students should not have to feel the impact of financial difficulties within the department.

We're looking for different ways to raise money and still offer athletes the best collegiate experience.

- Jim Livengood
UA athletic director


"We've tried to make reductions that don't impact student athletes," Smith said about decreasing the department's $2.5 million debt.

Both ASU and the UA are attempting to reduce costs without negatively impacting student athletes.

"We're looking for different ways to raise money and still offer athletes the best collegiate experience," Livengood said.

Though certain expenses, such as travel, are out of the departments' control, the athletic departments are trying to keep the students' needs in mind.

The UA athletics department has struggled to keep salaries competitive, just as the rest of the university has.

"We're trying to get our arms around salaries," Livengood said.

This goal is easy to talk about, but hard to do, he added.

The directors' reports also included updates on athlete graduation rates.

The graduation rate of UA football players has been declining since the 1998-99 school year.

Athletics departments look at six-year graduation rates, and the average graduation rate for football players who entered the UA as freshmen in 1996 was 30 percent.

Those who entered the university football program as freshmen in 1992 had a 69 percent graduation rate. On a six-year scale, that means that 69 percent of the students who were freshmen in the football program in 1992 had graduated by 1998.

In 2003, only 30 percent of the football players who had entered the school six years before had graduated.

If an athlete transfers to another school or leaves the UA to play professionally, he or she is counted against the school's graduation rate, Likins said.

Six-year graduation rates for the university as a whole have stayed steady at about 55 percent over the past few years.

The athletic department as a whole graduated 60 percent of its students in 2003, boasting a higher graduation rate than the university average.

The NCAA is enacting reforms that are intended to improve graduation rates among student athletes.

Likins, who is the Pacific 10 Conference representative on the Division I board of directors, said most of the NCAA reforms will leave the UA unaffected; student athletes are already held to higher admissions standards and academic eligibility.

In phase one of the NCAA academic reforms, athletes entering universities beginning in 2008 will be required to have taken 16 core courses in high school. The current NCAA requirement is 13.

This change will leave UA athletic admissions unaffected, Likins said, because all students applying to the UA must have taken 16 core courses during high school.

He also emphasized that student athletes are not in college just to play sports they must focus on academic requirements as well.

"Maintaining eligibility is not about taking classes and getting grades, but working toward degree requirements," Likins said.

The NCAA will also be testing student athletes for academic eligibility after every term, something the UA already does, Likins said.

The previous requirement only held student athletes to testing after every academic year.

Along with the reforms, the NCAA will change the way it measures graduation rates and implement a point system to monitor students.

"There is a system being put in place. every student athlete, in every sport, at every university can earn two points every term," Likins said.

One of the points will be awarded for completing the term and maintaining academic eligibility, while the other will be awarded if the student graduates.

Likins said the percentage of points will be compared on a national level to all other teams and sports.

This system would be called the Academic Progress Rate, and it would help the NCAA more easily compare six-year graduation rates among athletes.

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