According to the Associated Press, UConn is swimming in some very deep financial troubles that may affect some of the university’s teams that call Storrs home.
The school’s financial report, which was released on Thursday, detailed some financial bleeding within its athletic department. Among $40.4 million in generated revenue is another $80.9 million floating around in expenses, signaling a $40.5 million deficit.
Not only does that $40.5 million margin exist, but there’s another concern: UConn reported an 85 percent decline in funds received from media rights alone, from 2017 to 2018.
Compared to Power 5 conferences like the ACC, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) has some of the poorest teams in all of college sports — a disadvantage that can cause a domino effect, hurting a program’s recruiting efforts, infrastructure and coaches’ salaries.
A closer look at UConn Athletics’ spending
Last year, UConn announced the addition of some new toys to its campus: The Huskies soccer, baseball, softball and hockey teams all will have new facilities to play in over the next two or so years. Of the $25 million promised to a project that’s directed on the soccer, baseball and softball side of things, $18 million came from donors (as of March 2018).
Despite the current bumps and bruises of its money woes, UConn’s ice hockey program was also granted a gift in the form of a $45 million arena, which is scheduled for completion by 2021.
Coaches’ salaries and bonuses
Outside of its facilities, UConn treats its coaches fairly well for a university that has yet to peek its head out of basketball dominance of years past and present. For example, head football coach Randy Edsall and his staff received $84,000 in combined bonuses during the 2018 season even though the Huskies finished the season with a 1-11 record.
Additionally, UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley signed a six-year contract in 2018 — a deal reportedly worth $2.75 million per year.
Back in 2017, Geno Auriemma, the image of UConn women’s basketball, earned himself a five-year $13 million extension.
A growing issue in collegiate sports
If Benedict chooses to close out a portion of his athletic department at UConn, he wouldn’t be alone. Eastern Michigan University, part of the Mid-American Conference, lost four of its programs in a decision made last year, which supposedly saved $2.4 million.
A few years ago, Temple University Athletics experienced an even deeper plummet, as the Owls dropped baseball, softball, men’s crew, women’s rowing, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor track and field from their portfolio.
Most likely cuts for the Huskies
If UConn follows the path of Eastern Michigan and Temple, cutting programs would be the quickest way reign in spending. The basketball teams in Storrs are probably safe, but the same kind of assurance can’t be given to UConn’s football, women’s lacrosse and volleyball teams. For Benedict, ending programs is surely a last resort.