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Thursday, June 6, 2019

KU Athletics increases football funding, looks to develop plan for stadium renovations, other projects

The University of Kansas' Memorial Stadium is pictured on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

The University of Kansas' Memorial Stadium is pictured on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

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The University of Kansas athletic department is expected to increase its investment in its football program next school year.

The Kansas Athletics Inc board of directors on Thursday approved a proposed 2020 fiscal year budget, including an increase of about $5 million in spending for the football program. The 2020 fiscal year coincides with the 2019-2020 school year. Chief Financial Officer Pat Kaufman said the additional funding for football covers new coaching salaries for the program and increases for the operating budget.

KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said the increased investment puts the KU football program at about the “middle of the pack” of the Big 12 on coaching staff size, but said the program is still spending among the lower half.

“We’ll need to continue to invest,” Long said. “As we invest (our competitors) continue to invest as well. It’s a battle to keep pace.”

Long said he believes the program doesn’t need to be the largest spender, but rather spending enough to put it in range to compete.

“We think we are there now,” he said.

The overall approved budget, a total of $106 million, spends about $7 million more than proposed the year before. However, the increase is on par with the actual spending by the department during the 2019 fiscal year.

Kansas Athletics ended up spending $107 million, about $8 million more than its proposed 2019 budget, because of changes to the football program, including the “one-time transition” of firing former head coach David Beaty and hiring new coach Les Miles.

The athletic department did not have trouble covering the additional costs because of $8 million in increased contributions from boosters. Kaufman said the increase was spurred on by the men’s basketball team qualifying for the Final Four in 2018 and the excitement of hiring Miles.

While the contributions from boosters are likely to drop back to normal levels, Kaufman highlighted the increased revenue the department will receive from a new contract with Adidas. The proposed budget shows the department receiving $11 million from Adidas, which is nearly $7 million more than the year before.

“That has been a big boost to our program,” Long said of the Adidas contract. “They are a leader in apparel and shoes and we’re pleased to continue with them.”

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said the proposed budget is $1 million less than the department spent the year before, but it is still a significant increase to what was originally budgeted. Kaufman said the $106 million budget is likely to be closer to the standard level of funding in the future, with the department also expecting to increase spending by about $2-3 million annually.

“We knew the investment in football had to come,” Long said. “The $106 million is where we expected to be, and we’ll grow from there with the investment we’ve made in football.”

Kansas Athletics to develop a facilities master plan

Long reported to the board that Kansas Athletics will soon meet with four consultant organizations that are vying to be selected to help the department develop a facilities master plan.

The purpose of the master plan is to give the department a guiding reference to construct new facilities and renovate current facilities over the next 15 to 20 years, Long said. It will also help the department with its planned $300 million renovation to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, which is expected to begin in the next few years.

Through the plan, Kansas Athletics will look into what fans want out of the stadium, what they are willing to pay to use those amenities, and how the department is going to raise money to fund those renovations. Long said the plan could also look into finding new ways to use the stadium for more than just football games in the fall.

“I think the most important part is helping us decide what does our stadium need to be looking forward ... and trying to find ways the stadium can be used more than six or seven times a year,” he said. “It needs to be a facility that accommodates many events and many other options. We need to be willing to look outside of the box in ways we are utilizing the stadium when we are not playing football.”

Long said he anticipates developing the plan will take about a year.

Comments

Chris DeWeese 1 week, 2 days ago

I'm happy to see Long making good on his commitment to invest more $$$ in the football program. Now let's see if he can propose a better looking stadium renovation than the one by Zenger. That was so underwhelming.

Brett McCabe 1 week, 2 days ago

Yeah that was underwhelming. Z’s last gasp to save his job. Fresh eyes , fresh approach, new energy. All good.

Jim Keen 1 week, 1 day ago

I'd love to see the money spent on digging out and lowering the level of the playing field to bring the front row seats closer to the sidelines. Once the track was gone, I thought that was the plan. Also, how about putting in stadium seats throughout. Those bench seats get REALLY hard and most uncomfortable about half way into the game. Closing in the end of the horseshoe to make a bowl would put the stadium on par with other big time programs which it is soon to become (of course).

John Joseph Gorski 1 week, 1 day ago

We have a former SEC A.D. and a Former SEC HC. I'm thinking we could see some SEC caliber flavor to the stadium renderings when they become available.

Brian Skelly 1 week, 1 day ago

A good template to follow would be what the Packers did when they did the renovations of Lambeau Field. The "bowl" was essentially left in tact entirely. They built "up" with more seats and sky boxes, but more importantly, they built "out" and surrounded the bowl more with facilities that can and are used year around. The idea of "seats" as opposed to benches sounds nice, but would cost a bunch more and reduce the total number of seats in the building -- appreciably. Im for it, but only if you build up more (add a second tier to the end zone might be a possibility). Im confident as well that adding real seats (at least stadium-wide) is not part of that 300 million budget. Maybe down low for higher end donors. There is lots that can be done, the question is the will and the money. Coach Miles getting to a bowl game or two the first few years of his contract would go a long way to funding that.

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 week ago

How much did the football program generate last year, less than $30MM? What a disparity!

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