UW athletics lost $5.5 million in 2009, but big gains in 2010 forecast | Huskies football
Willingham buyout, bad economy played roles in deficit.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Die-hard Washington Huskies football fans might say spring practice truly began on Tuesday, as the team put on full pads for the first time after three workouts in lighter gear.
It's the beginning of a season that many UW fans anticipate will finally end a frustrating seven-year streak without a bowl game, the third-longest of any BCS team in the country.
And the anticipation is evident in increased early season-ticket sales for 2010.
The school reports it has sold about 1,800 new tickets, and also has a 94 percent renewal rate despite a home schedule that's not quite as glittering as last season. That gives UW 38,129 total season tickets sold for the 2010 season, 1,589 tickets ahead of the pace of last season (the total does not include student seats, which go on sale May 10).
It's a trend that should help the school as it battles a tough economic climate that is crimping collegiate athletic departments throughout the nation.
But in the 2008-09 fiscal year, the Huskies reported a net deficit of about $5.5 million for its athletic department, bringing in $54.019 million while incurring expenses of $60.575 million. It was a rare time the school hadn't balanced its budget or made money.
UW athletic director Scott Woodward, however, said the deficit was the result of two possibly one-time occurrences — a drop in the department's endowment due to the fall in the stock market that resulted in $3.4 million less than expected in revenue; and payouts for coaching salaries, largely related to the football change from Tyrone Willingham to Steve Sarkisian, that cost more than $2 million. Willingham got a $1 million payout upon being fired in the fall of 2008.
The department was able to make up for the deficit by dipping into a reserve that had been at about $11 million. Woodward said that allowed the department to remain self-sustaining other than about $1.9 million from a state program to fund scholarships to help the department comply with Title IX.
"What we always tell people is we are not going to be in the black or the red every year," Woodward said, saying that's why the surplus is in place.
"The good news is that we expect the endowment to be up significantly this year because the market has performed well and season-ticket sales are up and football is on the upswing."
He also noted that the conference will negotiate new TV deals for football and basketball that will be in place by the fall of 2012 that are expected to be a significant increase from the current contracts.
What will also help, he said, is that the school will put out renewals for seats in the Don James Center in 2012 — something that occurs every five years.
"This is all good news pointing in the right direction," he said. "So there is no need for concern."
Elisara gets some work at DE
One of the experiments to fill in the sudden lack of depth at defensive end was on display Tuesday as senior Cameron Elisara, who has been primarily a tackle throughout his career, spent ample time at that spot.
Sarkisian said he liked what he saw.
"He was as effective as he's been at (defensive tackle)," Sarkisian said. "He's disruptive, he got in the backfield again and was really solid against the run. Really effective."
Asked if that's a look the team could use during the season he said, "Easily, easily."
• Sarkisian said the team has thrown just one interception in four practices, saying that "I'm really proud of our quarterbacks. The intensity is there (in practice) but we are still making good decisions." That includes redshirt freshman Keith Price and true freshman Nick Montana, who each got ample work with the backup offense Tuesday.
• It was also the first full-pads day for freshman RBs Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, who like Montana graduated early from high school to enroll at UW in time for spring. Said Sarkisian: "It's not always about the physical toughness, it's the mental toughness, and I thought neither of them were in shock or awe."
• The Huskies received their sixth commitment for the class of 2011 from cornerback Kameron Jackson of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Jackson is listed at 5-10, 175. Five of UW's commits are from California. Players cannot sign letters of intent until next February.
• WR Cody Bruns sat out with a concussion suffered Saturday, and DE De'Shon Matthews was also limited with an Achilles injury.
• The Huskies will practice again on Thursday and then hold their first full-scale scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
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