Hawaii Athletics on Track to Show Profit
By Fred Guzman
Jim Donovan’s recent comments before the Aloha Stadium Authority can be categorized as cautiously optimistic. Donovan said that his University of Hawaii athletic department, which has an accumulated deficit of $10 million, appears to be on track to show a profit for the recently concluded fiscal year.
That would mark only the second time UH turned an annual profit since 2001, the sole exception being the Sugar Bowl season of 2007, when UH received a BCS payment of $4.4 million. Higher attendance figures in football, baseball and men’s basketball — coupled with an estimated $740,000 in new student-athletic fees — helped turn the tide of red ink and likely will enable UH to balance its $30 million annual budget.
That’s no small accomplishment. According to a recent NCAA study cited by the Star-Advertiser, only 18.3 percent of the athletic departments at the 120 schools who play major college football made money in 2010. And, according to that study, of the 98 who didn’t break even, the median deficit was $11.6 million.
The challenge, if anything, becomes bigger for UH as it prepares to move to the Mountain West Conference for fooball and to the Big West for most other sports. As part of the switch, Hawaii will be required to take on the additional expense of subsidizing travel for its new league partners.
There are also questions about whether UH will be able to keep in place its lucrative pay-per-view deal, which has generated about $2.5 million annually to the deplete coffers of the cash-strapped athletic department.