Mandatory student fees is one of the primary revenue sources for the athletic department budget at Keene State College. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, $484.63 of the mandatory student fees went towards the athletics funding.

Aside from the mandatory student fees that support around 85 percent of the total athletic budget, Director of Athletics Philip Racicot said that the other primary sources of revenue are university funds (administrative college based funding), and fundraising. The department also makes money through other sources such as ticket sales, concession, and advertisement. Racicot said, “Last year we set a record for ticket sales, we sold tickets for $10,000.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration Susan LaPanne said that the contribution of the mandatory student fees in the total athletic budget last year was of around 2.65 million,which is approximately 2.6 percent of the total KSC budget last year. 

Racicot said, “Athletics play a viable role in making a campus vibrant, presents a source of community and pride and certainly is worth the portion of the student fee from that standpoint.” 

He further said that the department wants to shift some of the budgetary implication to more of a college-funded model and less of a direct student fee funded model. 

“In so many ways, the athletic effort is aligned with the academic effort, and it’s really a direct correlation between the academic and athletic experience,” said Racicot.

The major expenses of the athletics department are in operating budgets such as salaries, travel, equipment, gear, game officials, game management, health care, athletic training and supplies. According to Racicot, the labor budget is pretty slim. 

“We have a pretty small administrative staff, and we have athletics trainers, all the assistant coaches are all part time,” explained Racicot.

LaPanne termed the athletics department as a “self-sustaining department” meaning that the revenues should at least cover the expenses. If the revenues exceed the expenses, that “profit” goes to the reserves which are also known as “equity”. 

“In years where athletics made more in fees and fundraising and ticket sales than their expenses, those amounts went to the reserves, and in years of deficit that we have had, in order to balance the budget, we have taken money out of reserves from prior profitable years, that’s how it works,” said LaPanne.

The primary budgetary issue faced by the KSC athletic department according to Racicot is the decrease in enrollment. 

“The student fee aspect of the budget goes down each time the enrollment goes down,” said Racicot. 

Even though the college’s overall enrollment has gone down, according to Racicot, from an athletic perspective, enrollment has either stayed the same or grown. He further explained, “You can’t sustain things at that high level with high standards we have for the student-athlete experience from that standpoint so it’s definitely challenging, and that’s where fundraising has helped us a lot.” 

The athletics department primarily does three fundraising events in the year: the Golf Tournament in the summer, the Giving Challenge every February and a calendar raffle in the fall. The pandemic has however affected the fundraising events of the department the most. Racicot said, “We don’t have the same opportunity for the fundraising, like last year we raised over $100,000.”

Interim Annual Giving Manager Patrick Shaughnessy said that the Giving Challenge in February 2020 raised about $48,000 exceeding the goal of $25,000. 

The Golf Tournament is the largest athletics fundraiser, however, it is rescheduled for next year due to the pandemic. 

The Fall calendar raffle event is where the department sells calendars and there are prizes involved. Racicot explained, “We would go to solicit a local supporter business, like a restaurant for example, for gift certificates, and that kind of thing would be prizes.”

 However, Shaughnessy said, “Athletics didn’t want to go up to local businesses [this year] and ask to have a $100 gift card to raffle up because they recognize that local businesses are hurting as well.” 

So the athletics department did something different this year amidst the pandemic. The department launched a $20 for ‘20 fundraiser to help make up the fundraising gap.

“We all know 2020 was not the best year and the idea was to see how many $20 donations we can get over a 20 days period to get us out of 2020, it’s got pretty well, but certainly a challenge, you know it’s a difficult environment to raise money,” said Racicot.

The positive thing about the pandemic according to Racicot was that since they had no competitions in the fall, the budget was reduced. The department also didn’t incur any additional expense with regards to testing. Racicot said that the athletics department hasn’t done testing that’s been above and beyond than the normal testing on campus. He further said, “We are really fortunate in a sense that the college committed to weekly mandatory testing, which fit essentially all the requirements that we had for athletics in the fall.” 

While the normal testing will suffice for the most part next semester, Racicot said that there might be some additional testing to best approach testing in spring. 

For FY2022, the mandatory student athletic fee will remain the same as FY2021 due to the pandemic. In FY2020, it was $472.86, and $459.57 in FY2019.

According to Racicot, the department traditionally presents their budget in front of the student government leaders. He said, “I did it last year for the first time; we go to the student government and present the budget and then we essentially have to ask for any increases in the fee so we could offset our budget.”

However, this year, it was different as the VP of Finance and Administration attended the student assembly alone to present the proposal which was eventually endorsed by the student leaders.

KSC sophomore and treasurer of class of 2023, Dominic Lynch said that traditionally, “We will have every department in the college come meet with the student assembly and they said we would like a 2.5 percent increase for example and they have to tell us why, and we would vote if we believe that the department should get the budget raise.” 

Lynch, who is also a non-athlete student said, “I have no problem with the non-athlete students giving money to the athletics department. I’m actually happy that I’m able to contribute to the athletic department mostly because yes, it is for the athletic department which is also very important, but at the same time, if we didn’t have those fees, we wouldn’t be able to have games that would be free for any students to attend.”

Student Body President Davis Bernstein did not get back to the Equinox after multiple attempts to contact him.

Racicot said that Keene State being a division III school makes the ability to generate a real revenue pretty limited. 

In an email sent by Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Cathy Mullins, Mullins explained that as a division III school, Keene State is prohibited from awarding athletic scholarships. 

Racicot further said, “Every student athlete basically is providing net tuition revenue to the institution, many institutions at the Division III level look at athletics as a generator of revenue because the more athletes you have, the more students you have. If we didn’t fund athletics in the way that we funded, we might find ourselves in more of an enrollment decline.” 

Keene State College’s sports is not a pay-for-play environment. “These students are recruited, they choose to come to Keene State, primarily they have a lot of other opportunities, they choose KSC, it was the best match between their academic and athletic aspirations, so there is no fee to participate in athletics, but on the other side, they do sometimes have additional out-of-pocket costs because we can’t simply fund all kinds of things,” said Racicot.

Racicot said, “Athletics plays a big part whether you participate in athletics, or whether you are a fan or good at games, or not good at games, athletics still does present part of the fabric in the college.”

 

Puja Thapa can be contacted at:

pthapa@kscequinox.com