The University of Montana
The University of Montana
Part I – Jim O’Day:
Intercollegiate Athletics has become a very complex creature as compared to how it was in the past. Today, Athletics is big business and in the spotlight (good or bad) all the time. At UM we are fortunate to have a strong Intercollegiate Athletics department and a supportive university and community.
Beginning of slide show: the Intercollegiate Athletics budget has grown from $1.8 million in 1988 to $15.2 million in 2013. To compare, the athletics budgets for the largest Division I schools are often over $150 million. A $60+ million budget will become increasingly common for Division I programs in the near future.
At the same time, our football ticket sales revenue of $4.5 million is more than double the second highest for a football program in the Football Championship Subdivision (Appalachian State is second).
The new television contract will mean an additional $20,000 in television revenue.
19,000+ season football ticket sales is equivalent to the University of Colorado, which is outstanding.
Our football program costs about $6.5 million to run and is a breakeven program. Most programs in the FCS are losing money.
UM is number 54 on the Collegiate Licensing Listing of apparel sales. This is extremely high, considering there are so many larger athletics programs.
Intercollegiate Athletics has accomplished a lot in the last five years, thanks largely to the support of the university and the community.
For the second time in five years, we received the President’s Cup of Champions recognition, which is based on both athletic and academic success. This is an amazing accomplishment and requires a lot of people to work together.
IA recently totally revamped its website, which is a recruiting tool. Five years ago, we had the best website in the Big Sky. At the last accreditation visit, we were told that we had the worst, so it needed to be redone.
Jim talked about the importance of having lights to allow the practice schedules to work around the class schedules of athletes. The lights also benefit other teams (soccer, for example) who use them. They will also benefit other programming in WGS such as concerts and the $40,000 fine issued by the television contract will be removed.
The new Student-Athlete Academic Center will help provide a dynamic learning environment for UM’s student-athletes. The current set up is extremely inadequate. The new project has been approved by BOR and is moving forward.
We need to also improve the Strength and Conditioning Center, locker rooms, and other interior spaces. We can’t continue to have the strongest athletics programs with the worst interior spaces.
IA will work to expand social media to reach out to recruiting-aged students.
Jean Gee is working on a master plan for the women’s softball program. This will be an attractive program because it gives female recruits another option for getting scholarship support to come to school here. There are a lot of strong softball programs throughout the state.
Athletics will continue to work together with campus affiliates such as dining services.
UM needs to do a brand awareness campaign. It is important to use consistent logos. Even though the interlocking UM is acceptable in certain settings, it is far less likely to mean The University of Montana to people who aren’t from Montana. There are certain logos that will be emphasized.
It is time again to take a serious look at the Intercollegiate Athletics strategic plan. Things move very quickly in the world of athletics.
A common challenge in athletics is to be “relevant.” This means a lot of different things, but it is essential. UM’s athletics programs are doing a good job of maintaining relevance. The football program has received excellent ratings. While football can be highly regionalized, making the basketball tournament brings a great deal of national recognition.
Part II – Jean Gee:
Jean is the Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) for UM. This is an NCAA title assigned to the highest ranking woman in the Intercollegiate Athletics organization. Title 9 requires that the SWA be involved in all high-level decisions. There are other requirements and responsibilities of the position.
Jean is responsible for the Athletic Performance Center (see slides).
A note re: drug testing – UM conducts both NCAA-mandated and institutionally-mandated drug testing. UM is testing for street drugs, where the NCAA is checking for performance enhancing drugs.
Five student athletes have perfect 4.0 GPAs this year. The highest male GPA and female GPA receive the presidential award, but this year there will be five awards due to the tie.
Athletes are bound by NCAA requirements to make progress toward degree completion, so the athletics academic advisors have to help ensure that these requirements are met to maintain eligibility. Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a measure that the NCAA uses and can penalize institutions who do not meet them. UM is one of the few programs that has not been penalized for APR infractions in men’s basketball or football, two sports that often have issues.
Athletics is able to bring in speakers to talk about various topics such as personal responsibility and social media responsibility.
NCAA exit interviews provide administrators a plethora of information and feedback on a variety of topics.
Academic Recruiting Process – the recruits must meet not only the UM admission requirements, but also NCAA requirements. In addition to academic preparation, Jean has to assess whether the recruit is a good fit and can be successful.
Official visits are limited to 48 hours during which the recruit meets with people from athletics (coach, etc.), the department of interest, the academic advising group, etc. More than half of the visit is spent on the academic side. Jean and other faculty, advisors, and staff provide feedback on the recruit as to whether they feel the student can be successful academically at UM before the coach makes a decision to offer a roster spot.
The recruiting advisory board also looks at transfers to be sure they are a good fit academically and socially. Transfer student-athletes often face different obstacles, and the RAB helps guide them through the process.
As NCAA compliance officer, Jean has to know and ensure compliance with a very thick manual full of rules. Jean created a quiz for the group.
Think about the student-athletes trying to navigate what is allowable and what is not. The rules are incredibly complicated. IA works to educate the student-athletes and the boosters. The NCAA is talking about deregulating and having a principles-based system rather than rules-based. Jean thinks this would lead to a lot of gray area and unequal interpretation of the principles.
Part III – Greg Sundberg:
GSA – Grizzly Scholarship Association
Donations are run through the UM Foundation. Primary goal is to raise funds for student-athlete scholarships. UM provides $4.1 million in scholarships and these are hard costs that are required by NCAA.
For our size school and alumni base, the money that the GSA has been able to raise is impressive.
The GSA has four employees, one of which is part-time. Of the 13 chapters, one is in Sydney, MT and one is in Plains, MT, so that gives you an idea of the variety. I think he said there is one in Spokane, too.
Greg emphasized that you can give more than $5,000 for the club level membership.
The Griz Auction is a major fundraising event and raises around $120,000 each time it is held (only every other year before the Griz-cat game).
Greg talked about the importance of tuition and fees for both in-state and nonresident tuition. As the costs climb, it decreases the effect of the scholarship funding GSA can provide.
Kent Haslam, Associate Athletic Director for Development
Oversees all fundraising efforts and liaises with UM Foundation. He and Greg work closely together, traveling far and wide, soliciting private support.
The process is donor-driven, so if a donor says they want to provide money for a certain project they will accept and honor that as long as it is mission-related. But, if someone asks what the priorities are, there are four.
Kent talked about his perception when he visited UM. He thought that athletics had all the facilities and support it needed. He was very surprised to find that the locker rooms and academic center and other interior facilities were not even close to being up to par.
Kent has focused on creating endowed and named scholarships. The GSA works to raise annual funds, so they come in and are spent in the same year. The endowed scholarships represent a longer-term benefit.
An important program is degree completion scholarships to help student-athletes in their fifth year when their athletic scholarship is no longer available.
Opportunity funds are where donors want to help a sport team get or do something that they normally would not be able to do.
Because UM’s athletics are so successful, there are ongoing needs to update the Hall of Champions and make sure it stays current. This is a good problem to have, but it is a showcase for the accomplishments of UM athletics and is important. There is an endowment fund to support it, but it requires ongoing donations to keep it up to date.
The fundraising totals only show the charitable amounts (according to IRS regulation), so it doesn’t reflect the full amount that came in. (ex: if someone donates an auction item work 2,000 and it auctions for 4,000, these numbers would only include the 2,000.)
Wrap-up – Jim O’Day:
Jim talked about main goal of UM Intercollegiate Athletics, which is to give the student-athletes the college experience they deserve. UM is meeting this goal for the most part and making adjustments when feedback is received.
The Big Sky conference is very spread out and the destinations are sometimes difficult to get to. The budget for travel continues to exceed expectations.
Q & A:
Q. To what degree does Intercollegiate Athletics support itself, vs. rely on institutional support?
A. At UM, 67% of the athletics expenditures represent self-support and the remainder is from tuition, appropriations, and fees. The average university athletics program is 50% self-support and 50% state support.
Q. Why does UM have to have so many sports programs?
A. NCAA Division I schools are required to have 14 intercollegiate sports, which is why we have to maintain certain sports programs.
Q. How do the student-athlete scholarships compare to academic scholarships in the amount of scholarship funds available?
A. According to NCAA regulations, athletics scholarships may only cover grant and aid, whereas academic scholarships may cover the full cost of attendance. While the number of students who receive full cost of attendance academic scholarships is not large, it is worth noting that the student-athletes are not receiving full cost of attendance scholarships.
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