RENO, Nev. >> Nevada and UNLV spent less on their NCAA football programs during 2011-2012 than any other schools in the Mountain West Conference.
Nevada ranked last in spending on both football, at $5 million, and basketball, at about $1.5 million, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
The $3.7 million UNLV spent on basketball last season was the third most in the league behind New Mexico’s $4.5 million and San Diego State’s $4.4 million. UNLV spent slightly less than $7 million on football.
San Diego State spent the most on football in the league, nearly $11.8 million. That’s nearly twice as much as Nevada spent on basketball and football combined.
Nevada athletic director Cary Groth, who retires next year, and football coach Chris Ault, who announced his retirement last week, said the university is going to have to step up its commitment to athletics to be able to compete effectively in the conference the Wolf Pack joined this season.
“Our whole department is underfunded,” Groth told the Gazette-Journal.
“We have done some things to advance the program, but clearly we need to make a big jump,” she said. “We’re talking millions. We’ve increased fundraising. We’ve increased licensing. We’ve increased sponsorship. But we need a big jump. And one place it can come from is season tickets. We’re not selling the number of season tickets for football that we need to be selling.”
Ault said he’s confident help is on the way in the form of Marc Johnson, who became UNR’s full-time president last April after a yearlong stint in the interim position. Johnson has shown a dedication toward athletics and has made it a priority to have a make-or-break practice facility in place soon.
“The financial aspects are getting better,” Ault said. “I’ve got to tell you, President Johnson is a special guy for this university. Forget the athletic department, for the entire university. He has the right vision for athletics and the right place for athletics.”
Ault, Groth and Johnson all said it will take a community effort to properly fund Wolf Pack football. An increase in season-ticket sales is mandatory to flood more money into the program. Garnering more donations also is a must. Groth said getting additional state or student money would be helpful, too.
“The financial situation cannot be fixed just by fundraising,” Groth said. “We’ve got to fix the budget and get more money into our athletics program in order for us to have the kind of success we want to have. Our expectations are so high, yet our funding is so low. You can’t meet those expectations unless you have the tools in place to get there. The expectations and tools have to be parallel to one another.”
The 2011-2012 budgets of each Mountain West Conference school (most recent available figures):
1. San Diego State, $11.75 million
2. Hawaii, $10.59 million
3. Colorado State, $8.9 million
4. Boise State, $8.54 million
5. New Mexico, $8.11 million
6. Fresno State, $7.25 million
7. Wyoming, $7.21 million
8. UNLV, $6.95 million
9. Nevada, $5.01 million
Air Force N/A
1. New Mexico, $4.45 million
2. San Diego State, $4.43 million
3. UNLV, $3.76 million
4. Wyoming, $3.04 million
5. Colorado State, $2.43 million
6. Hawaii, $2.29 million
7. Fresno, $1.8 million
8. Boise State, $1.73 million
9. Nevada, $1.46 million
Air Force N/A
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Reno Gazette-Journal