|Interim athletic director Bill Martin (right) made a point of personally introducing himself to all of those attending his March 6 press conference. Photo by Bob Kalmbach|
Martin told those assembled in the television studio at Crisler Arena that he considers it an honor and privilege to serve the people of the state of Michigan and that he will base his actions as interim athletic director on the fundamental mission of the Universityeducation.
The student-athletes are first and foremost in my mind, he said, even though other issues, such as another projected budget deficit reported by the Ann Arbor News March 3 and ongoing problems with the basketball program and the NCAA, claim the medias attention.
Martin has been serving since last spring on an advisory committee appointed by Bollinger to review the Athletic Departments finances and governance, so he was well-briefed on the most recent deficit potential prior to the Ann Arbor News article. Im very familiar with each line item in the budget, he said.
Martin is familiar with sports financing, having served on the U.S. Olympic Committees budget committee. He noted that, in contrast to the U-Ms problems, the Olympics $125 million budget is something of an embarrassment of riches. We have a hard time spending it.
|Martin at his March 6 press conference. Photo by Bob Kalmbach|
The financing of collegiate athletics is becoming more difficult nationwide, Martin noted, and the U-M is not immune to those problems. An interim report of the advisory committee, released last June, noted that athletic departments are under increasing financial pressure, reflecting the expense of adding new sports, few of which produce enough income to cover expenses, with the revenue-generating sports bearing an increasingly large financial burden. Even for the revenue sports, the future is uncertain, the report stated, adding, The revenue impact . . . cannot be predicted and therefore adds even more uncertainty and risk.
Martin also stated that there will be no quick fixes for the budget deficit. Im not taking a short-term view. I want to put in place a program that puts us in the right position over the next few years. I want to work on [finances] from a long-term perspective, to get a foundation in place for the permanent director.
Asked what kind of authority he had, Martin said it is the same as a permanent director would have. I can do everything; that was my number one requirement. Im not a caretaker and Ill do whatever is necessary to do the job.
Martin said his list of priorities is nearly identical to one Bollinger had drafted:
Martin feels the low staff morale is partly due to lack of communication and he plans to send out e-mail messages every week or so about what has happened and what is coming up.
He had already met with several key staff members prior to the press gathering and was to meet with all of the staff on March 7. Hes counting on the staff, which he described as bright, loyal and committed, to offer cost-cutting suggestions, and will be handing them cards to jot down those ideas at the March 7 meeting.
He did tell the reporters that an increase in football ticket prices will not be one of the ways in which the deficit will be addressed.
Asked how the job offer came about, Martin told reporters he was asked by Bollinger a couple of weeks ago to take on the job during a discussion about the U-M review committees work. He [Bollinger] said, Of course Id like you to serve as interim director . . . That was not on my radar scope, Martin said, and I told him Id have to talk with my family and staff. That was Thursday and I called him back on Monday.
Martin said he accepted the position as payback. This University has meant an awful lot to me. I was accepted as an M.B.A. candidate and I was marginal. It led me to a rewarding profession. I met my wife in Ann Arbor and Ive raised my kids here. Ive enjoyed the benefits of the city and the University. My business runs perfectly. Payback is the real answer.
Martin is not accepting any compensation for the position. He plans, in fact, to reimburse the University for all meals, plane tickets, etc., that come about as a result of his position.
He also is not a candidate for the permanent position and will have no role whatsoever in the search for a permanent director except to brief final candidates on what the job is about, should they ask.
Lower-than-projected revenue from gifts, licensing and radio advertising are contributing to an unexpected Athletic Department potential deficit of up to $3 million for the year ending June 30, the Ann Arbor News reported March 3. The anticipated deficit is based on interim financial reports through the end of January.
The department had last fall predicted an $880,000 surplus for the year.
The latest projected deficit follows on the heels of a $3.8 million deficit for fiscal year 199899, $2.8 million in operating expenses (reported in September 1999) and an additional $1 million in capital expenditures and transfers. Among the elements that contributed to that shortfall, which was made up from reserve funds, were a $1.35 million decrease in licensing royalties, a $400,000 drop in mens basketball ticket sales (a $200,000 decrease was budgeted), the $500,000 cost of the mgoblue.com project ($350,000 more than was budgeted), unrealized income from the unsuccessful M-Vision project, $500,000 less in gift revenues, and increased facilities and post-season expenses.
In February 1999, President Lee C. Bollinger asked Robert Kasdin, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to head an ad hoc committee to advise him on the long-term financial planning and governance of the Athletic Department. The committee, of which Bill Martin, the newly-appointed interim athletic director, is a member, issued an interim report June 23 with several recommendations related to finances, including advance planning to fund facilities renovation and a focus on controlling expenses, rather than counting on ever-growing revenue.
The broadly held perception that we are insulated from national trends, that the Athletic Department is a money machine, and that any financial challenges simply reflect unfortunate specific decisions, is not the case, the report stated. Rather, the report said, the departments avoidance of financial problems was due to luck, increased licensing royalties in years when U-M teams won national championships, and the periodic addition of an extra football game.
Despite years of concern about expense trends, the report said, insufficient action has been taken over time. That hesitation to grapple with unfavorable long-term trends in expenses is understandable in light of continuing surpluses. In fiscal year 1999, the music has stopped.
Among the recommendations made in the interim report were:
In addition to Kasdin and Martin, other members of the committee, which now is reviewing governance issues, are Elizabeth M. Barry, associate vice president and deputy general counsel, and Percy Bates, professor of education, member of the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics and the U-Ms faculty representative to the Big Ten and NCAA.