GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – As universities across the United States face a dramatic drop in funding due to the cancellations or postponements of athletics, the University of Northern Colorado is one of many that is more concerned with the loss of revenue from lower student enrollment.
UNC Director of Athletics Darren Dunn said the Big Sky Conference’s decision to delay all fall sports, including football, won’t hit the Greeley campus as drastically as it may for universities in conferences like the PAC12, SEC and BIG 10.
“Financially, (postponing the season) doesn’t impact us a great deal. All of our revenues, whether it is tickets, sponsorship or donations, goes in to a revenue account,” Dunn told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “We’re more dependent on how enrollment is doing, then how ticket sales are going.”
Dunn said, like many universities, their budget is predominantly set by the university’s student enrollment in previous school years. While a potential loss in revenue due to ticket and concession sales declining at a later date may have an impact, it won’t be as drastic as that experienced by other programs which have multi-million-dollar TV and sponsorship agreements.
However, with a decline in enrollment being experienced at multiple Colorado universities, Dunn said the athletics department will have to be more cautious with how they spend money going forward.
“We are working through some significant budget reductions in our athletic department,” Dunn said. “We are going to have to travel differently. We are going to have to be smarter where we recruit and be much more frugal in how we spend our resources.”
Dunn said his student athletes contribute more than $10 million in tuition back to the university, as most playing sports at UNC are not under scholarship.
He also said it was important, especially amid COVID-19, to prioritize the mental health of athletes who often live to compete.
“If we cannot do it safely, we will not be competing. If that means it hurts our revenue lines, we will deal with it at that time. But for sure we will not compromise the safety of our athletes,” Dunn said. “They want to compete.”
In more than 20 years working in college athletics, Dunn said 2020 has been the most trying.
“It’s not even close. It is extremely challenging,” Dunn said.
Dunn assured parents, and students, that UNC has taken drastic measures to make sure a return to campus for education is as safe as possible. While he wants to get his department back to fully operating, and have athletes back in uniform, he said it was important that the university continue to prioritize maintaining a safe living and learning environment.
“Our classes start in less than two weeks. That is our number one priority,” Dunn said.