EWU Board of Trustees focus on football playoff budget during meeting


Taylor Newquist

The Eagles’ defense gets ready for a third down play in the FCS national championship game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 5. EWU athletics spent $169,802 on travel expenses to the game according to a presentation given by Athletic Director Lynn Hickey at the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 22.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

EWU’s athletics director Lynn Hickey, along with other staff members, presented an athletics budget update focused around the football team’s January appearance in the FCS National Championship to President Mary Cullinan at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Hickey and Vice President of Business and Finance Mary Voves presented the revenue brought in from hosting three FCS playoff games, and how that compared to the expenses of sending a group to the national championship. The three playoff games in Cheney brought in $349,455 in gate revenue and cost $334,298 to put on, profiting $15,157.

In the three to four days following EWU’s semifinal victory over Maine, the board had to decide on purchasing all 4,000 tickets offered for to the university for the game. Hickey said they chose to buy all those tickets.

EWU fans did not buy all of the purchased tickets, with the board estimating only 2,500 tickets being sold to the Eagle faithful. Since the tickets were nonrefundable, EWU decided to sell approximately 900 tickets to North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota zip codes.

“We had held those tickets and it was too late to give them back,” Hickey said. “That probably cost us about $20,000.”

Hickey noted that they also discussed the nonrefundable policy with the NCAA. The NCAA reported that the game was sold out, but EWU hadn’t been able to sell all their tickets, so Hickey said they should be able to give back the tickets they didn’t sell so the NCAA could put those up for sale.

Lance Kissler, associate vice president of strategic communications and marketing, presented to the board the costs of promoting and marketing the playoff run to the Spokane community.

Kissler estimated that over $13,000 in direct expenses were used throughout the playoffs and national championship. He noted that many of those dollars went toward reusable materials such as banners and flags.

Kissler touched on other promotions of the team used to raise awareness in Spokane as well.

“You probably saw the staffs lit up in red and the flag on top of the STCU building downtown,” Kissler told the board. “The Eagle (logo) on the side of the Wells Fargo building and on the Davenport Tower … Our goal there is to increase community spirit and awareness.”

Kissler told The Easterner via email that his team estimated $3.3 million in added media value from the football team’s appearance in the national championship.

“(This) includes traditional news media and social media,” Kissler said.

Traveling to Frisco, Texas, for the championship game drew unpredicted expenses. One was a second charter plane that cost EWU $171,000. The NCAA supported one plane, but Voves explained that plane didn’t have enough seats for everyone to be able to go. She said the high cost was worth spending.

“We had a couple of additional football staff and two spouses on (the second plane),” Voves said. “We had some athletic administration. We had 17 university representatives and spouses. We had 75 band members and 14 cheer members. That’s the cost of providing the presence in Frisco. As Lynn will tell you, can’t send a team to the national championship without the band (or) cheer.”

Hickey then explained that the NCAA does not reimburse the school revenue for appearing in a football national championship. Men’s basketball is the only sport where reimbursements are made by the NCAA.

“What the (NCAA) will do is give you so much travel reimbursement for a certain number of team, administrators and coaches,” Hickey told the board. “For this particular championship, it was 145 … they will not support travel for band and cheer.”

Hickey added that the EWU athletic department had a phone meeting following the championship with the NCAA to discuss the experience. She said they asked the NCAA to review their policy of not supporting band and cheer to travel to football championships. North Dakota State, the team EWU faced in the championship, was able to bus band and cheer members down to Frisco. EWU, being much farther away, had to pay for them to fly.

“We asked them to consider in future championships, they could put some distance parameters in,” Hickey said. “If you’re outside a certain line, that there’s some level of reimbursement. They don’t want to host the national championship without your student support groups to help the atmosphere and reward the kids.”

With the second charter plane, EWU was also able to send 30 football players who couldn’t dress for the game down to Frisco to be a part of the experience. Hickey noted that everyone, including administration, went to Frisco with a job to do.

“From all the different events we had helping the team, to getting tickets,” Hickey said. “We did not want to take anyone that didn’t have a role.”

Combined with university support the total budget for the playoffs was balanced between revenue and expenses at $1,060,406.