The University Record, July 3, 2000

Regents’ Roundup

Athletic money woes fixable, Martin says

By Jane R. Elgass

The Athletic Department’s financial woes are “short-term and are challenges we can fix,” Bill Martin told the Regents at their June meeting. And meeting those challenges may come in several forms, including an increase in football ticket prices; consideration of such approaches as requiring a contribution for purchase of a ticket or offering preferential seating at a higher cost; rental of facilities for concerts or other activities; and more effective use of the Department’s production studio in Crisler Arena.

The Athletic Department’s $45 million budget supports 25 varsity sports (23 now, men’s soccer and women’s water polo to be added this fall) involving 648 student-athletes, and 44 club sports with1,500 participants.

The unit’s goals, Martin noted, include continued national prominence, academic excellence, gender equity and long-term financial equilibrium.

Michigan athletics currently ranks third in Sears Cup ratings and leads the Big Ten in gender equity at 48 percent. The U-M also grants the maximum number of scholarships allowed by NCAA regulations, ranging from 85 for football to 4.5 for men’s golf.

Martin, who is interim director of athletics, noted that while 44 percent of the University’s student-athletes have 3.0 GPAs, about 10 percent are at risk, with GPAs of 2.1 or lower. He and his staff are working on a pilot program, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost, to address this problem.

He also would like to see closer ties between coaches and faculty, suggesting that the two groups should consider “walking around in each other’s shoes” for a day.

Citing initiatives launched by peer institutions to increase revenues, Martin noted that if the U-M were to increase the price of football tickets to match those at Ohio State University—$41—“our deficit would be gone.”

Ohio State has raised $20 million through naming rights, seat licenses, suites and scoreboard advertising. Pennsylvania State University has raised $9 million through preferential seating. Notre Dame and Michigan State University (MSU) require a $100 contribution for ticket eligibility, which will generate about $600,000 for MSU this year. The University of Wisconsin has raised $4.5 million through a preferential seating program.

Martin noted that any change in ticket policies would be brought before the Regents after “vetting with the community.”

The Department already plans to add 450 seats to Yost Arena (700 were lost with renovations) by way of a balcony on the State Street side of the building. Adding seats to Michigan Stadium also is a possibility.

Asked by Regent Daniel Horning to consider skyboxes for Michigan Stadium, Martin said, “It’s on the list.”

Facility needs, both maintenance of existing facilities and expansion, will top the priorities for the department over the next few years. About $20–$25 million is needed for maintenance, with $15 million needed to fix up Crisler Arena. Facility expansion is estimated to cost $30 million, to be supported through fundraising.

Other potential revenue sources include rental of Crisler Arena and Michigan Stadium for concerts and other activities, as well as rental of the golf course. Crisler was rented in the past, but now serves as both a game and practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. An alternate practice facility would have to be developed. Alternative uses of the Stadium would require installation of a protective “carpet.”

To contain costs for fiscal year 2000–01, Martin has asked for a 7 percent target budget reduction by most sports. Some are unable to comply because of prior commitments that have heavy travel expenses.

Other cost containment moves include:

  • Centralizing production and reducing quantities of publications, which costed $850,000 this past year.

  • Reducing facility staff overtime.

  • More effective use of the production studio in Crisler Arena.

    “We need more resources, but we can generate them ourselves,” Martin said. “All we need is your support.”

    Martin will be presenting a budget for the coming year to the Regents at their July meeting.

    CESF chair briefs Regents on concerns

    By Jane R. Elgass

    Equitable faculty compensation guidelines, the “corrosive” effect of meeting outside offers and the need for accurate and complete faculty salary data were the focus of the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (CESF) over the past year.

    CESF’s charge, chair Rudi Lindner told the Regents at their June meeting, “is to review those policies and practices that affect the compensation and benefits of the faculty and researchers, to obtain information about the position of the faculty, and to highlight problems that are present or loom on the horizon.”

    Compensation guidelines

    A year ago, CESF worked with the Office of the Provost, and representatives from Human Resources and from the Office of the General Counsel to refine compensation guidelines that were developed two years ago. Elements of the compromise version of the guidelines included non-discrimination, openness in compensation determination, consistency in the application of policy, peer review, communication of evaluations, and mutual understanding and accountability.

    Provost Nancy Cantor appointed a study committee to advise her on the implementation of the guidelines. Over the course of the past year that group broadened its scope beyond the salary program, “with a view to comparing the different cultures within such a diverse institution as ours,” Lindner explained.

    “Although the committee did not favor a single set of guidelines to be applied across the University, we appreciate that among its recommendations is an encouragement for deans and chairs to pay ‘particular attention to the CESF guidelines . . .’”

    Outside offers

    Retaining outstanding faculty in an increasingly competitive environment has a serious effect on the merit pool, Lindner noted. Outside offers in the recent past have averaged 45 percent more than what the University offers.

    CESF this past year focused attention on “the problems that arise when meeting an outside offer from an existing pool reduces the funds for other faculty and researchers in a unit: one label for this effect is ‘the loyalty tax.’”

    There are several models on campus for dealing with meeting outside offers. In some units, the additional dollars come from the unit’s general fund allocation and therefore do not affect the merit pool. In one instance, additional funding was provided by the central administration, as a “one-time solution.” One of the colleges divides salary funds into two pools, with one used for promotions, retention and rewarding special services. With this approach, the merit pool is not affected by retention offers.

    CESF is most concerned with LS&A, Lindner noted, which has almost 1,000 full-time instructional staff. Outside offers initially are countered with the addition of what the individual’s merit raise would be for the coming year. Half of the additional funds come from the College’s salary pool and the other half from the unit’s merit pool. This results in a decrease in the general pool and in the unit’s merit pool.

    “Robbing Peter to pay Paul may lead to a lessening of collegiality and interest in teaching and other responsibilities,” Lindner pointed out. “We therefore reiterate and reemphasize the faculty concern for, and our willingness to assist in gaining, the expansion of resources for faculty compensation.”

    Non-salary compensation

    While base salaries are reported in a uniform fashion, other forms of compensation, such as summer support, bonuses and “at risk” compensation, are not, making accurate comparison of total compensation difficult.

    CESF is working with Human Resources on release of that data and hopes to receive it “in due course. Only from figures for total compensation may our community obtain a true figure of the actual economic status of the faculty,” Lindner said.