UC Davis AD Warzecka Comments on Cuts to Water Polo

UC Davis Athletic Director, Greg Warzecka, in an email response to questions regarding the financial shortfall facing UC Davis’ water polo programs, provided these comments to Total Waterpolo. They are taken verbatim from his email:

…The University is working through an unprecedented fiscal crisis and has declared a financial emergency. During the last two years, UC Davis has made tough decisions and difficult choices to resolve shortfalls totaling more than $150 million, or 25 percent of the general fund budget. In 2010-11 the campus faces an additional shortfall of $38 million to $78 million, depending on the outcome of the governor’s budget proposal. I’m responding to your email message so you may better understand the gravity of the financial problem as it pertains to the Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) program.

The campus community was recently made aware of a very difficult University decision to eliminate a combination of General Funding and Registration Fee funding of over $2 million from the ICA program, effective July 1, 2010. Such a large reduction leaves athletic administrators with very few options to manage a cut of this magnitude. Over the past few years ICA has looked for various ways to shed costs and still provide the most essential core services needed to maintain competitive teams and student-athlete welfare. We can no longer address these challenges solely with across the board sport and administrative unit budget reductions – we have already done so. We have also taken advantage of staff attrition while asking the remaining staff to take-on additional responsibilities. We have already cut sport budgets across the board and replaced the multi-year cuts with donations and fundraised dollars. This type of strategy will not sustain our 27 sports over the long-term.

A recent Income & Expense Report for 2008-09 shows that UC Davis Athletics has generated revenues above the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) median for ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, NCAA revenue, and game guarantees. The information shows that the UC Davis ICA program is already exceeding revenue levels that other comparable mid-level Division I FCS institutions have reached. A significant future increase in ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and donations to off-set current and pending budget cuts is not predictable. In essence, most mid-level Division I institutions don’t sell a lot of tickets, and if a school doesn’t have a large alumni base making significant contributions, AND, is not in a Division I conference that generates revenue, then athletic administrators have little chance of growing revenue significantly to offset budget cuts the size that are being applied to the ICA program at UC Davis and many other public institutions in California that have lost millions in State funding.

Even though we can be proud of the level of revenue we are currently generating, current staff will continue to be creative and entrepreneurial, however, to continue the assumption that ICA has flexibility with its funding sources to continue all 27 sports is a fallacy. We have found prudent and creative ways to resolve the numerous budgetary challenges facing the department in the past, but we have now reached the end of credible alternatives. Short-term fundraising efforts that generate less than $100,000 per year per sport will not solve the massive financial problem we currently face.

The intrinsic value and life’s lessons learned from participation are present in all 27 of our NCAA Division I sports and is not any greater or more valuable in one sport over another. Unfortunately, in the immediate and near future we will lack the funding necessary to continue all 27 sports and as a result, opportunities to participate in athletics at UC Davis will be lost. Starting in the 2010-11 fiscal year, we must sponsor and support those sports that best help the department reach and maintain fiscal solvency.

Our current 27 sport offering is being reviewed based on established criteria specific to our current circumstance at UC Davis and can’t be compared to the decisions being made at other institutions. Please accept this response as my best effort of providing a brief overview of a very complex and difficult decision process.