EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: MSU Board of Trustees Moves to Fix Underfunding of Football Adding $4 Million Per Year to Dantonio’s Budget!
Since 2009 Spartan Nation has sounded the alarm that Michigan State Athletics has funding issues. Those issues we have detailed time and time again are from an administration that simply takes far too much revenue from that athletic arm of the University.
The funding issues that Spartan Nation has been harping on caught up to MSU this year. Something had to be done or MSU was facing a crisis of competitiveness when it comes to its #1 sport in football. MSU was being negatively recruited against for not fully funding football and the issue had become dire. Positions were unfilled, facilities like the training room area are in need of upgrade, and other issues face the program.
Despite Spartan Nation sounding the alarm for nearly two years about the salaries of football assistants, MSU failed to act until Spartan Nation broke the story that Pat Narduzzi was in College Station interviewing for the DC job and things hit crisis point there. The same thing happened earlier this year when the negative recruiting and concerns mounted to epidemic levels. Something had to be done. Something was done.
From June 19-21, 2013, the MSU Board of Trustees went on their retreat. Weeks prior to this meeting various members of the Board of Trustees began to take serious note of the funding issues for MSU football. Spartan Nation received feedback from multiple members of the Board of Trustees as we continued to sound the alarm in our 2012 end of year recap articles.
One of the members of the MSU BOT told me before the retreat, “We don’t have a choice. I don’t care if you love or hate football, it they fail to compete for a Big Ten title in football, MSU athletics as we know it is no more. We have to have the money it takes to stay competitive every single year. We have got to fix this now.”
At that retreat the Board of Trustees authorized an additional $4 million dollars to be added to head Coach Mark Dantonio’s football yearly budget. This additional amount WILL NOT come from current athletic department funds. This money is not taken from other sports.
On Saturday June 22 I was contacted by a member of the board who informed me that the Board had unanimously agreed with constant reports of Spartan Nation that football must be fully funded. They informed me, “Trustee Mosallam asked Mark Hollis directly, ‘How much does football need?’ When Mark Hollis told him, ‘four million per year,’ it was settled. I was very proud of the Board. This is a no brainer in my book. Should have never got to this point.”
Joel Ferguson, the President of the MSU Board of Trustees, told Spartan Nation for this report about the decision to expand the football budget by the 4 million dollars per year, “It was a unanimous vote by the entire board. We were just following the recommendations from our athletic director. We are all in agreement. We think the world of our athletic director and we trust his recommendation. This initiated by the athletic director and the football coach. We are trying to give them the tools they need to win and that they ask for.”
The additional $4 million per year added to the MSU football budget is significant and will allow MSU to fill NCAA allowed positions that have been unfilled. They will also begin a much needed overhaul of the training room inside the Duffy Daugherty and possibly even, “An overhaul of the locker room. It could use it, and there is a lot more,” that according to a source inside MSU athletics.
There are some inside the MSU upper echelons of the non-athletics administration who feel that MSU has “Overplayed the importance of athletics” or that “We can’t compete with schools that have a 100,000 seat stadium.” That is no less than a cry of apathy in my opinion and the MSU board would have none of that. In fact, those sentiments faced strong rebuke.
Faylene Owen serves as the chair of the finance committee for the board and she told Spartan Nation, “Football is our biggest sport and drives the athletic department. We can’t compete for bowl games, we must compete for championships and if that means improving the funding so be it. We are determined to compete with the best nationally and not just in the Big Ten.”
Former MSU football player now Trustee Brian Mosallam told Spartan Nation, “More people will ask me every day where our football or basketball are ranked before they are going to ask me where our engineering and or education department is ranked. Spartan Nation definitely cares a lot about athletics and as business people you have to keep an ear to that. You have to see that and our administration does.”
Mosallam went on to commend the board as a whole. He said, “Obviously, we have a board that is asking some of those questions that are very important. It was very productive. Everybody knows where we need to be to compete with the likes of Michigan and Ohio State and everybody did the right thing.”
Mosallam told Spartan Nation exclusively what he feels the role of football is in the Spartan Nation. “We’re here to compete for championships. We are not here to go 7-6 and beat Michigan and everybody be happy. Coach D recognizes that. Coach D has moved the Titanic. Look what he has done; Big Ten championship, two runner up Big Ten appearances. Last two bowl games he has won. Nine kids get drafted the last two years and he’s taken these alleged whatever they are, two and three stars that everybody talks about, I don’t really pay attention to that, and really developed these kids. What he has done for this program and how he has changed the culture and the mindset and how everybody thinks is absolutely unbelievable.”
For those concerned, the money will NOT come from the university’s general fund or a tuition increase. MSU has been and remains totally self-sufficient in the athletic department. Spartan Nation has confirmed with three sources not affiliated with MSU athletics, but from the MSU administration that, “It will most likely come from one of the areas you have been hitting on at Spartan Nation: Either the licensing, parking, Big Ten Network, or concessions money that the University keeps from MSU athletics. Mark Hollis will report at the next board meeting where that money will come from, we just know it won’t come from current athletic department funds.” It is important to note that none of the three sources was willing to speak on the record since they are not authorized by President Simon to address the matter publicly.
Former Spartan football player and now Trustee Mitch Lyons said, “We have three, one hundred thousand seat stadiums in our new division that we have to compete with now. We have to stay competitive. I don’t think adding 20,000 seats right at this second will make a difference. We have to take these steps. When Mark Hollis tells us he needs this to be completive in football then that is what he needs.”
Former head football coach and current trustee George Perles addressed with Spartan Nation exclusively the importance of the board’s actions to fund MSU football with the additional $4 million per year. He said, “It affects the entire community and everyone in the state of Michigan. It is bigger than big and there is a difference with being part of the Big Ten and competing and not just being happy to be in it. It had the full support of the board as soon as we knew how much they needed. Football has to be competitive for championships.”
When it comes to athletics the name Breslin is synonymous with MSU. Current Trustee Brian Breslin said of the board’s funding of football decision to Spartan Nation, “The football program is very important and key to the overall brand of the University. Our alumni want to associate with healthy winning programs. We have high quality individuals that run our athletic program and coach in our program, and about 99 of our athletes fall in that category.”
Breslin went on to add, “Keeping current and competitive with our peers not only in the Big Ten, but nationally is extremely important to our athletic program, University, and alumni. Athletics complements our University by showcasing the University and that allows us to get the message of our academics out. You open the newspaper and whether you like it or not the sports section is an entire section of the paper. If you have a well-run, winning, and high character athletic program, that helps your academic program no doubt. “
It is important to note that although this was a great step for the time being MSU still has the same funding issues on the horizon. They must address again the funding issues in the totality of the department and not just football. They must look at concessions, parking, Big Ten Network, and licensing revenue for athletics. This was simply an act of kicking the can down the road for now, more must be done so that this isn’t a drama issue on a regular basis.