University of Minnesota Regents will be asked to OK long-term loans for athletics department

University of Minnesota Regents will be asked to OK long-term loans for athletics department

The University of Minnesota athletics department plans to borrow a “significant amount” of money to help offset financial losses during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The plan requires approval of the Board of Regents, who will be asked to approve the plan during a teleconference meeting Thursday, Dec. 10, at 9:30 a.m.

According to the Finance & Operations Committee docket for Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting, the university is anticipating a total budget shortfall of $166 million.

The school is expecting to lose $16 million in tuition, $2 million for COVID-19 expenditures and $148 million in “other revenue.” Most of that, according to the docket, is $123.5 million in losses from “external sales in Athletics & Other Auxiliaries” — specifically “student housing, dining, parking, and athletics.”

When the Board of Regents voted Sept. 12 to eliminate three men’s sports starting in 2021-22 (gymnastics, tennis and indoor track and field), the school anticipated it would between $60 million and $70 million because of lost ticket and television revenue, but that was a week before the Big Ten Conference reversed its decision to postpone the season.

An athletics department spokesperson said Monday those budget deficit estimates haven’t changed. The Gophers entered this school year expecting to spend $123 million on athletics.

Still, Division I schools lost a big revenue sharing paycheck when the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were canceled last March, and the university has lost all ticket revenue this fall, most notably from the football team, which was expected to draw well at 50,000-seat TCF Stadium after going 11-2 and finishing the season ranked No. 9 in the country in 2019.

According to the docket, the Board of Regents will be asked to approve unspecified long term loans to help the athletics departments for the Twin Cities, Crookston and Rochester campuses. “It is likely,” the docket states, “that the loans to Twin Cities Athletics and Twin Cities auxiliaries will be significant.”

“Specific financing options have been developed and will continue to be refined and analyzed through winter and early spring before a final decision will be made and implemented near the end of the fiscal year,” the docket states.

In May, the athletics department’s top earners agreed to take 10 percent pay cuts; that group included The list includes athletics director Mark Coyle, football coach P.J. Fleck, men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino, women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen, men’s hockey coach Bob Motzko and volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. That group also surrendered a week’s pay in April.


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