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UH might turn profit this year

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 1:57 a.m. HST, Jul 2, 2011

The University of Hawaii athletic department expects to be in the black for only the second time in 10 years for the fiscal year that closed Thursday.

Athletic director Jim Donovan told the Aloha Stadium Authority this week, “my staff is reporting to me that we have a very good chance to be in the black, although we won’t have the exact numbers for two or three weeks and the (independent) audit for another four months.”

Donovan, who took over in 2008, said, “in my experience, the audit and the internal numbers are usually pretty close.” He declined to disclose the current projections, saying the situation is still fluid.

The 2007 Sugar Bowl year and the resulting $4.4 million Bowl Championship Series payment gave the athletic department its only year out of the red since 2001.

Donovan credited better-than-projected returns in “baseball, men’s basketball and football and some other sources” along with cost containment for the positive projection.

“We’ve really tried hard to hold the line on costs,” Donovan said.

Baseball attendance reached a 15-year high and crowds were up an average of 38 percent for men’s basketball. Revenue improved an average of $11,000 per game in men’s basketball, UH said. Football attendance was up an average of more than 1,300 per game in a 10-4 season.

In addition, UH received its first installment on the student athletic fees, expected to be approximately $740,000, and earned its second-highest Western Athletic Conference revenue check, $1.7 million, of which $137,256 was from money Boise State left on the table with its departure from the conference.

UH has been running an accumulated net deficit of nearly $10 million built up since 2003.

An independent auditor has told the UH Board of Regents that “the athletic department is, in effect, borrowing cash from other university units” to cover its accumulated net deficit.

Donovan said if UH ends in the black, proceeds will go toward beginning to pay down the accumulated net deficit, which the department has been paying interest on.

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