After a nice year where the University of Hawaii athletic department was able to return to the black, it looks as though UH athletics will be back in the red after this year. This comes as a direct result of the UH football team having a sub-par season, and losing many more games than people thought they would.
Think what you want about football, but it is the main lifeline of UH athletics, and when attendance is down – as it is this year, the entire athletic department suffers. UH officials are estimating that the University of Hawaii football program is going to come up about $500,000 short of original expectations.
Athletic director Jim Donovan told the Board of Regents Committee on University Audits on Monday that ticket sales originally projected to reach $5 million are trending toward $4.5 million and could go lower.
“I have to caution it could be worse,” Donovan told the committee. “Hopefully not much worse.”
Since UH football is the breadwinner of the athletics department, this overall projection really hurts. The football team was originally picked to win the WAC, but things have just not gone according to plan. A combination of sub-par coaching, young players and injuries have kept the Warriors from that title. As it sits right now, they have to win there two remaining games just to secure a bowl bid.
If they do that, then that will help the money situation some, as UH would get some money for participating in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. If they don’t, then UH athletics stands to lose even more.
Donovan said projections for the current fiscal year, which closes June 30, 2012, show a $982,798 deficit. In addition to the football shortfall, Donovan said the loss of WAC revenue as a penalty for the school’s move to the Mountain West Conference in 2012 and costs involved in replacing Boise State on the schedule will contribute to a deficit.
As a condition of its departure from the WAC, UH forfeits its share of pooled WAC revenue, which could be as much as $1 million. When Boise State left the WAC, it forced UH to scramble to fill the hole on its schedule and cost nearly $400,000 to secure Tulane as a late replacement.
Committee Chairman James Lee said finishing in the black was “phenomenal given the economic conditions,” and lauded the department’s ability to hold down expenses while increasing revenue. But Lee said he was concerned about the “football situation.” He said, “I think we will be looking at that very carefully.”
Lee said the status of head coach Greg McMackin, who has one season remaining on a five-year, $1.15 million-per-year contract, will be evaluated later.
Below are the attendance numbers for the University of Hawaii football team this year. As it stands now, the attendance this year is on pace to be the worst it has been since the 0-12 season that UH had in 1999.
UH Football Attendance This Year
|New Mexico St.
Source: University of Hawaii