PSU athletics mulls taking $30M loan
By Anna Orso
Published: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 11:12 p.m.
STATE COLLEGE — Under the weight of a $60 million NCAA fine and empty seats at Beaver Stadium, Penn State University's self-sustaining athletic department might borrow $30 million to keep itself afloat.
During a presentation to the university's board of trustees, athletic department officials told school leaders in a five-year budget outlook that they expect the unit's reserve balance to be $3.9 million in the red for fiscal 2014-15. They don't expect to be in the black again until fiscal year 2017-18.
Major expenses include about $3.8 million annually to service debt to cover a $60 million NCAA fine. That penalty was part of sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and how top administrators responded to molestation complaints against the former assistant coach.
Sandusky, 69, is in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys on campus and in his State College home.
As part of the NCAA consent decree agreed to by Penn State and the Big Ten conference, the university will lose $13 million a year for four years in conference bowl revenue.
That loss comes on top of declining football game attendance that's expected to continue. Beaver Stadium holds 106,572. Last year, attendance averaged 96,730. Through two games this season, attendance has averaged 92,855.
Corporate Controller Joe Doncsecz said the university is exploring borrowing $30 million to support the athletic department's operating deficits and capital needs. The university said last year it would not use state money or student tuition to help pay the fine.
Between $5 million and $10 million of the loan would create a line of credit to offset deficits and another $20 million to $25 million would cover short-term capital needs the department considers “critical.” The department didn't produce a list of those needs.
Trustee Anthony Lubrano said the athletic department's woes are unsurprising given the “enormity” of the sanctions imposed.
“But the question is, can we bring alumni back into the fold?” he said. “Game attendance is a key reason for these fiscal challenges. We can't solve two-thirds of our biggest problems, so our last option is game attendance.”
University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the athletic department's financial review was “positive,” adding that attendance doesn't always correlate to revenue.
“Athletics doesn't feel like they're in such a bad place,” Powers said. “They're still waiting to see where this season will go. At this point, it's just based on projections. Game attendance is even harder to predict than the weather.”
Penn State intercollegiate athletics is limited in what it can and can't do to stay in compliance with the NCAA consent decree university President Rodney Erickson signed in July 2012.
Associate Athletic Director of Finance Rick Kaluza said operating budgets in place when the sanctions were imposed can't be touched. Trustee Paul Silvis brought up the idea of eliminating a low-revenue sport, but Kaluza said it wouldn't be permitted under the decree.
Athletic Director Dave Joyner said eliminating sports as a cost-cutting measure won't be necessary after 2016, when the sanctions will have lapsed. He defended nonrevenue sports as an important part of the educational experience.
Anna Orso is a freelance reporter based in State College.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States
- Crisis nursery in Larimer will fill a need, founders believe
- Would-be drillers quizzed by Allegheny County Council committee
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- District attorney’s office takes paperwork from Wilkinsburg Middle School
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Ex-detective picked for Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board
- Foundations team to make offer for August Wilson Center
- Several Duquesne homes damaged in fire
- Leader guided changes at Robert Morris