UNA Board Reviews Financial Plan for a Division I University

May. 20, 2011


FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama board of trustees today reviewed a financial plan that proposes a six-year transition into NCAA Division I. The plan was presented by Johnny Williams of Creative Marketing Management, which has worked with the UNA athletics and advancement offices since March to develop the plan.

“This is a comprehensive financial plan that provides a chronological guide for new dollars that must be raised to support a Division I athletics program. It also offers ideas for enhancing the UNA athletic experience regardless of the direction we take in the future,” said Dr. William G. Cale Jr., UNA President. “Assessing this plan in the overall context of what is best for the future of UNA is the issue now before the trustees.”

The board will convene for its next quarterly meeting June 13 on the UNA campus. At the meeting, the board could vote to accept the plan and to approve a letter of intent to move forward with plans for a transition to Division I.

“Over the next two to three weeks, members of the board of trustees will examine this plan in detail to determine whether this transition best fits not only the athletics department but the overall vision of the university in the coming years,” said Steve Pierce, UNA board president pro tempore. “We will look at each aspect of the revenue and expenses to make sure that the athletics department will have the proper resources to be competitive and ensure that the academic and student life divisions of the university will also benefit from this transition. After reviewing the details of the plan, the board will also determine whether the plan needs to be modified or adjusted prior to the June board meeting.”

The proposed six-year athletics funding plan presented today points out that an invitation from an NCAA Division I conference is a requirement to enter Division I, as is payment of a $1.4 million application fee to the NCAA. A cap on institutional support for athletics operating budgets to protect funding for academic programming and student life is recommended. If UNA transitions into Division I over a six-year period, the plan recommends a sequence for increases in funding for new athletic scholarships, operational expenses, salaries and salary adjustments.

The increases in athletics funding would come through several sources, including an additional $500,000 per year in donor giving to the athletics program.

“Increased donor support is critical to this transition. A successful move to Division I will hinge on external support at a heightened level throughout the entire transition and following,” said Mark Linder, UNA athletics director.

The funding plan calls for new private donations as well as new corporate donations, game guarantees, increased ticket sales, academic and enhancement funds from the NCAA, and a student athletics fee. New funding through each of these sources would be ramped over a six-year period, according to the following plan:

New private donations – $500,000 each year

New corporate donations – From $50,000 in year two to $200,000 in year six

Secure game guarantees – From $100,000 in year two to $850,000 in year six

Increased ticket sales – From $50,000 in year two to $200,000 in year six

NCAA academic and enhancement funds – Receive $59,000 in years two-five, increasing to $400,000 in year six

Student athletics fee – Increase from $24 per year to $109 in year one, generating about $600,000, to $264 in year four, generating about $1,318,000