Athletic officials: growing budget keeps UI 'competitive'


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Athletics officials say the increasing budget for Hawkeye sports is needed to stay "competitive."

The University of Iowa Athletics Department budget will be $75 million for 2012, up from $70 million in 2011.

Funds are necessary to be competitive in the Big Ten, Hawkeye Athletics Director Gary Barta said at a Presidential Committee for Athletics meeting Thursday night.

"It's hard to measure what size a budget has on the level of competition," Barta told The Daily Iowan, noting that all athletics funding is generated from within the department. "But you need to have enough to be competitive."

The department's budget remains low compared with that of other schools in the Big Ten, officials said.

The UI now ranks eighth in the Big Ten for budget spending, following the University of Nebraska's addition to the conference this year.

Ohio State University leads the conference in budget spending, operating on a $126 million budget for 2012.

Salaries take up a significant portion of the budget — approximately $27.2 million, said Athletics Department Chief Financial Officer Mick Walker, followed by debt service, scholarships, and operations and maintenance.

Football ticket sales make up roughly $21 million in revenue, he said.

But Barta said the smaller budget can be made up on the playing field.

"We just have to out-work, out-hustle, and out-coach [the other schools]," Barta said.

He said though the UI has a smaller population, very supportive fans help fund the department.

Fred Mims, the associate athletics director for student services and compliance, said Ohio State services 1,000 student athletes — compared with the UI's 600.

Although the Iowa Athletics Department runs on a tighter budget, Barta said it is one of about half of the Big Ten budgets that is self-sufficient — no money is taken from taxes or tuition.

"There's no hidden subsidies — we've made it very clear that the Athletics Department has the capabilities of doing this, and it is something we are very proud of," said Doug True, UI senior vice president and treasurer.

Walker said the increase in the UI budget comes from the "debt load that has really picked up," which primarily comes from the Carver-Hawkeye Arena renovation.

"There's been a trend over the last several years in the increase of the budget and other Big Ten universities — not just Iowa," Walker said. "Everybody's renovating arenas and stadiums, especially basketball stadiums."

Although budgets vastly differ among the Big Ten schools, Barta is still optimistic about Hawkeye sports.

"We are still at a different zone in terms of revenue but not every team has wins more often than others," he said.

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