Wyoming AD has a plan to improve athletic teams

Updated: February 18, 2007, 5:54 PM ET
Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- University of Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman is crafting a plan to make UW more competitive in the Mountain West Conference by improving both recruiting and scheduling.

In the last 10 years, only men's basketball has won a conference championship.

Burman said he is creating a Competitive Excellence Plan that "will guide our decision-making process during the next few years."

The plan will cost an estimated $800,000.

Burman said he hopes to get $400,000 from the Wyoming Legislature and match that with self-generated funds like donations, ticket sales, media contracts and merchandising.

Under the plan, $195,000 would go toward increasing recruiting budgets, with most of the money going to the three biggest sports: football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

"All of our coaches will tell you that they could do a lot better job of recruiting with more money -- across the board," Burman said. "... I want our coaches to be in a position where they don't blow money, but a coach shouldn't have to worry a couple of weeks before signing day if they can make one more last-minute trip somewhere."

Bill Sparks, chief financial officer and associate athletics director for UW, said the average recruiting budget for all sports among MWC schools is about $600,000 annually during the 2005-06 sports season. UW spent about $460,000.

UW football coach Joe Glenn said it costs about $1,000 to bring a recruit to Laramie for a weekend official visit, which includes airfare, accommodations and meals, and about $1,500 to send a coach out recruiting for a week.

Where this new money would help the most, according to most coaches, is in getting recruits to Laramie.

"When you fly a kid into Denver, you spend about four to six hours in a car picking them up and taking them back to the airport," Glenn said. "When you only have 48 hours for a visit, you would like all the time you can on your campus and around your program.

"But flying kids into Laramie or even Cheyenne is a lot more expensive."

Extra money also would enable UW coaches to subscribe to more recruiting services or upgrade their current service levels.

As for scheduling opponents, Burman wants to schedule teams, particularly in football, that UW fans want to see.

"I think Wyoming fans and this administration want to see Wyoming line up against the best opponents we can on a yearly basis," he said. "If we can get teams from the Pac-10 and Big 12 conferences to do a home-and-home with us, we have to roll the dice and see what happens."

Burman said to secure a home-and-home series with Pac-10 or Big 12 schools would cost between $350,000 and $500,000. That means UW would have to guarantee those schools that much when they play in Laramie, and UW would get the same when it played on the road.

Right now, UW can't make those kinds of guarantees because it doesn't generate that kind of money off of a football game. UW's price range right now is around $250,000.

Burman said he hopes the Legislature will discuss this plan and possibly decide whether to provide funding in the future.

"Ideally, I would like to start this for this coming fiscal year, starting July 1," he said.

Burman is confident UW can generate its share of the $800,000 without raising ticket prices or implementing surcharges on ticket purchases.

But Burman said the plan would stall if the school didn't get help from the Legislature.

"We have to finish this campaign," he said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press