Kansas University is determined to spend money to improve its football program.
That much was clear in the five-year budget projections released to the KU Athletics Corp. board over the weekend.
"It's something we have to do," KU athletics director Bob Frederick said. "It's one source of revenue we haven't maximized."
Kansas University's football budget during this fiscal year is $4.4 million. Five years from now, the football budget is projected to be $6.7 million. Meanwhile, football income is actually projected to drop from $2.8 million this year to $2.7 million in 2006.
In other words, while KU does not project its football income will rise, school officials realize they have to do something about football funding salaries, in particular.
"We need to address the salary issue," Frederick said. "As you know, we're at the bottom now."
The Kansas football coaching cadre is the lowest paid in the Big 12 Conference. However, KU plans to adjust football coaches salaries by $200,000 in FY2003 and FY2004, and increase them by 10 percent starting in FY2003.
At the same time, KU plans to boost administrators' salaries by only 3 percent.
Thus KU has decided to drop men's tennis and men's swimming from varsity status as well as institute a donor seating plan for Allen Fieldhouse in order to pour money into the area with the greatest capacity for revenue enhancement.
And while the long-range budget doesn't reflect it, Frederick is optimistic football will be more of a cash cow in five years.
"We are hoping for increased football income by 2006," Frederick said.
Football and men's basketball are the only KU sports that make money. The other sports generate so little revenue they are lumped in a $73,500 line item.
After football and men's basketball, Kansas University spends the most money on women's basketball $1,055,990 this year and a projected $1,396,332 in 2006. That's about twice as much as the second highest-funded women's sport rowing ($556,040 this year and $694,735 in FY06).
Kansas University lists 11 women's varsity sports, but track and field actually counts as three indoor, outdoor and cross country. KU will list eight men's varsity sports next year, including the three track and field entries.
KU's commitment to women's sports is a $4.6 million expense, or about as much as the KUAC receives each year in Big 12 Conference income. Coincidentally, KU projects a $5.8 million women's sports budget in FY06 and that's almost exactly the amount of money KU expects to receive from the conference office during that fiscal year.
The KUAC budget is projected to grow from this year's $23 million to about $28 million in FY2006.
Kansas is not alone in its projected future budget problems.
Nebraska, for example, funds 24 sports more than any other Big 12 school and the Cornhuskers boosted football ticket prices a couple of weeks ago.
Nebraska is charging $50 apiece for the Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Kansas State games, and $38 apiece for its other four home games.
Also, for the first time, Nebraska is asking donors to pay from $10 to $15 for their parking spaces depending on location.
"Inflation alone has resulted in a $1 million increase in our budget," Nebraska athletics director Bill Byrne said. "We must continually find new sources of funding in order to balance the budget and remain competitive."
Kansas, also with seven home games, is charging $40 for its Nebraska contest, $28 for each of its three other Big 12 home games and $25 for each of its three non-conference games in Memorial Stadium.
A 2001 Nebraska season football ticket costs $302. A 2001 Kansas season football ticket goes for $175. That's a $24 discount over single-game prices. Nebraska offers no deals.