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Originally published Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Money-wise, Huskies better than expected

The Huskies football team finished in ninth place in the Pac-10 last fall, and as the men's basketball team hits the halfway point of the...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Huskies football team finished in ninth place in the Pac-10 last fall, and as the men's basketball team hits the halfway point of the conference season it rests in eighth.

But despite the relative struggles of the University of Washington's two main revenue-producing sports, the school's athletic department budget appears headed for a finish above projections.

"It's better than what we had planned for, but not beyond what I had hoped for," said UW athletic director Todd Turner.

Turner said Tuesday that the numbers for the 2006-07 fiscal year are beginning to become clearer with football completed and men's basketball two-thirds of the way through its season, and he said the athletic department is projected to make about $825,000 more than it originally expected.

As of this week, the Huskies are projecting total athletic department revenues at $58.5 million and expenses at $53.5 million.

The revenues include $5.9 million in football season-ticket renewals for the Don James Center, which are purchased once every five years (cost is $2,500 per seat per year), which UW officials admit skews the profit side this year. Take that out, and UW is operating at a deficit of $900,000, though still about half as much as it was expecting.

"On the other hand, we have that money and we are using part of it for this year's shortfall," said Paul King, the school's associate athletic director for business and finance.

By the numbers


$5 million

UW athletic department's expected profit in 2006-07 fiscal year

8 percent

Drop in football season ticket base from 2005

$5.9 million

Don James Center ticket renewal value

Washington had been planning on a $4.1 million profit, including the Don James renewals, when it first put its budget for this fiscal year together.

King said overall football revenues were higher than anticipated, namely on the television side. Basketball revenues are also working out to be higher than expected.

King said revenues related strictly to football this season will be over $30 million while expenses related to football are $18.3 million.

The school expected to lose 10 percent of its season-ticket base from 2005 and instead lost just 8 percent. Washington averaged 64,326 in attendance in 2005 compared to 57,483 in 2006.

"Football revenues were better than our budget expected, but it's not where we need it to be," King said.

Turner said prospects for the 2007 season appear better because of a schedule that features the likes of Boise State, Ohio State, Washington State, USC and Oregon. Turner said the school has already received deposits for 600 new season tickets.

"We weren't even keeping a list last year," Turner said.

And the rise of the men's basketball program under coach Lorenzo Romar has helped offset some of the drop in football.

Attendance increased markedly -- the team averaged 6,573 in 2001-02 during Bob Bender's last season and 9,804 last year -- and so has giving. Turner said when he arrived at UW in 2004, "we generated less than $300,000 in basketball-seat-related giving. This year, we did $2.4 million."

Men's basketball is the only sport other than football that has made money in recent years, King said. In 2005-06, the basketball team made $8.2 million with expenses of about $4.3 million.

Overall, the school is making and spending more money on athletics than ever before (the athletic department continues to be self-sustaining).

Just since 2000, for instance, each number has raised significantly. That year, the school had revenues of $34.3 million and expenses of $34.7 million.

Turner said occasional revenues, as the Don James renewals or similar-type expenses, make it dicey to compare budgets from year to year. Next year's budget, for instance, will be skewed by a $6 million capital project outlay for a new football legends center.

Still, expenses such as scholarships and coaches' salaries continue to rise almost annually. Turner and Romar, for instance, have agreed to an extension of the coach's current contract that is expected to give him a boost in pay from the $1 million he makes now, while also increasing the length, likely to 10 years.

The uplifting news on the annual budget, however, has little impact on the plans to renovate Husky Stadium, a project that could cost upward of $150 million.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

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