Total expenses for year are $34.5 million

Updated: January 20, 2005, 8:18 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- University of Colorado athletics officials say they're facing a $2.1 million budget shortfall because football ticket sales suffered from last year's sex-and-alcohol recruiting scandal and from the general economy.

CU Vice Chancellor Rick Porreca told the Board of Regents on Thursday that the department has imposed a hiring freeze, reduced travel and made other cuts and will spend about $350,000 in reserves from the University of Colorado Foundation and about $300,000 in unused scholarship money.

CU will also benefit from getting $350,000 more than expected in its share of Bowl Championship Series revenue, Porreca said.

Without those moves, CU projects its athletics expenses for the current fiscal year will be $34.5 million and revenues $32.4 million.

The budget could take another hit if the regents repeal a surcharge on season ticket prices that's expected to raise about $1.1 million. Many CU fans are angry about the surcharge, which the university calls a "mandatory donation," and want the regents to eliminate it.

Regent Tom Lucero said he wanted a more extensive analysis of the budget shortfall and a more detail recovery plan.

"So far, what you've told me is that we need to increase revenue or we're going to have a shortfall. How do I know we're not going to be in the same position in another year?" Lucero said.

"If I were a venture capitalist looking to fund your company, I couldn't do it," he added.

Regent Gail Schwartz questioned the use of scholarship money to balance the budget.

"I just don't want scholarship money to backfill the department," she said.

The university wants to resolve the shortfalls before it begins a full-scale search for an athletic director to replace Dick Tharp, who resigned in November after the recruiting scandal and questions about fund-raising.

"If you want the athletic director of your dreams, you cannot weigh him down with the 500-pound anchor of what we have to do," said Stephen Golding, CU vice president for budget and finance. "Any athletic director worth his salt will not come if we hang on them the problems that we've talked about today."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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