The Division III Presidents Council endorsed five recommendations from the Division III Management Council that will cut a projected $2.17 million from the division’s championships budget. All of the measures pertain to championships travel policies; four of them are effective immediately. The proposal that necessitates a three-day window between championships selections and the first date of competition will go into effect in 2015-16.
The proposals were initially crafted via collaboration between the Division III Championships and Strategic Planning and Finance committees. While the cuts will help combat a projected budget shortfall of $2.5 million in the 2014-15 academic year, the council noted at its Aug. 7 meeting in Indianapolis that these are only preliminary steps in the long march to achieving a balanced budget.
The Division III Presidents Advisory Group discussed ways to balance the budget over the long term when it convened on the eve of the council meeting. The group, which is composed of representatives from each of Division III’s 43 conferences, endorsed the recommended championships reductions. Some members also suggested examining cuts to non-championships spending, which is primarily composed of grant programs and accounts for 25 percent of the division’s budget.
The advisory group also endorsed the concept of relying on membership funding to support championships and other programs through a dues increase or targeted championships assessment. Membership dues, currently $900 a year per school and $450 per conference, haven’t been adjusted since 1985 and are far lower than schools are accustomed to paying for membership in other organizations.
The advisory group stressed that presidents would likely be amenable to providing increased annual funding, either at a flat rate or at rates that slide based on criteria such as enrollment, school budget or size of athletics program. With approximately 500 dues-paying schools and conferences in the division, a targeted rate hike could make a significant impact on the efforts to balance the budget, advisory group members argued.
The budget discussion will continue this fall, leading up to the Division III Issues Forum at the 2015 Convention. That session will include a comprehensive review of the division’s budget resources, policies and process, as well as short-term and long-term budget options identified by the championships and finance committees including the benefits and drawbacks of adjusting the division’s championships access ratio.
“We’re going to have to make several adjustments,” said Alan Cureton, president of the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, vice chair of the presidents council and chair of the strategic planning and finance committee. “So when we asked the presidents advisory group, they threw out a variety of options. …We’re going to take a really hard look at everything, but we also want feedback from the Association and the membership as to what they think we should do.”