BU athletics reviewed, programs efficient

Story by Kyle Davis

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With scholarships, facilities, equipment and travel, running a collegiate athletic department is not cheap, but it also hasn’t been costing Baker University.

A yearlong athletic review, which began in August 2009, found that Baker’s athletic department is making the university money by generating revenue.

“So, if you just think of pure revenue over expense, and direct students that are brought here by athletics, and the amount of tuition, it actually makes the university money,” University President Pat Long said.

Long said the review also determined the number of student athletes impacted and what athletics adds to the culture of the university, how much alumni support is created due to athletics and that the athletic department was running efficiently compared to benchmark data.

Provost Randy Pembrook chaired a seven-member recommendation committee, which Pembrook said Associate Athletic Director Theresa Yetmar co-chaired for part of the process, which gave recommendations to the president about how to help the athletic budget.

“We basically discuss the things that we think are important, we make recommendations to the president and then really it’s up to the president then to decide what happens after that,” Pembrook said.

Long was given the initial draft recommendation and presented it to the finance and executive part of the Baker University Board of Trustees Thursday.

“What I’d love to do is be able to keep about the same amount as we have in our operating budget, but expand the restricted budgets that are in athletics so that they are getting more money, but more of it is coming from a donor base as well,” Long said. “And if we have winning teams, that will happen.”

Yetmar said the review was a comprehensive look at all aspects of the department, from individual programs to scholarships, fundraising and facilities.

“We really wanted to get a clear picture of where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go, and so it was a pretty extensive review process,” Yetmar said.

The department has looked to continue fundraising and scheduling more home games and events closer to Baker to help with the cost of travel. What is not on Yetmar’s mind is to cut a sport.

“It would be more of an overall detriment to the university as a whole if we dropped an athletic program when you look sheerly on the number of student athletes we have and you look at our discount rate and then the revenue that our student athletes are bringing

in, when you compare it to the amount of expenses we’re putting forth to run a program,” Yetmar said.

For Pembrook, the review showed what a large part athletics plays in the culture at Baker.

"We see it as a part of the identity of the institution," Pembrook said. Certainly students are here for an academic education, and that's very, very important, but many of the students, between 40 to 45 percent of the students, are here and participating in our athletics program. So the role of athletics in Baker life was underscored for me."<br/>