ACC Tournament

Faltering economy affecting local college athletic departments

Posted July 14, 2009
Updated July 15, 2009

— College athletics means big business and like every other big business, college sports are not immune to a down economy.

Even the best fund raisers, like N.C. State’s Bobby Purcell, are feeling the pinch of a bad economy.

“It’s a tougher environment to raise money for capital projects,” said Purcell, executive director of the Wolfpack Club.

N.C. State is in a better position than most schools, since most of the Wolfpack’s major projects –like the extensive renovations to Carter-Finley Stadium – have been completed.

“We were very fortunate,” Purcell said. “Our timing was great in that we completed most of our stadium projects before the economy went south.”

In Chapel Hill, the issue is less about fundraising, and more about operations budgets. With 28 varsity sports, North Carolina has one of the largest athletic departments in the NCAA. Those 28 sports are safe from being cut, but their support structure is being changed

“We are looking to cut in other ways,” said Dick Baddour, director of athletics at the University of North Carolina. “We’re looking hard at travel, how we do it, when we do it and where we go. We’re in a hiring freeze, and we’re looking hard at overtime.”

Baddour said the first phase of renovations to Kenan Stadium has gone ahead as planned, but the second phase is currently being delayed as a result of the down economy.

Duke remains full-steam ahead with ongoing renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium, which include new concessions and bathrooms on both sides.

“Like every school, the economic downturn has affected Duke Athletics,” said Jon Jackson, assistant director of athletics/communications at Duke. “We are finding ways to be more cost effective, without sacrificing service to our student-athletes and coaches.”

East Carolina has seen a decline in fundraising and season ticket sales of between 5-10%. But despite those reductions, ECU is moving ahead with the addition of 7,000 seats to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium’s east end zone.

“We believe the construction of these additional seats will create employment opportunities throughout eastern North Carolina in the short term and, in the longer term, add considerably to the current $90 million annual economic impact that ECU Athletics has on the surrounding area,” said Terry Holland, athletic director and special assistant to the chancellor at East Carolina University. “In other words, a stimulus package that is not shouldered by the taxpayers except those who wish to support ECU football and/or enjoy one of the best college game day atmosphere anywhere.”

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  • Gunnstigator Jul 16, 12:21 p.m.

    I'm a Heels fan, but I'm glad to hear that Wallace Wade is scheduled for an upgrade. Coach Cut... View More

    WOW! I have even more respect for you jgunn. "Cut" said that the team is part of something... View More

    — Posted by LGD

    Hey Lets Go Duke! I've enjoyed reading your posts. You're like me - we're true to our schools, but we don't bash the other ones. I know there is supposed to be "smack" going on, but sometimes, I just don't get the hate. Yes, I've followed Coach Cut since his arrival and I am so impressed. Did you know he adopted a friend of his son's when the young man was left without parents after both passed away? He said he considers him a son the same as if he were born to him. Give me a coach like that any day of the week. Yes, I think the Big Four are all headed in the right direction, and it is so good to see since we've all been through the coaching carousel recently. I'd like to see the ACC get some respect for football as well as basketball. And yes, APP State is certainly on the map after beating Michigan and having back-to-back (and I think to-back) National Championships. ECU is back in the conversation as well since Skip has been at the helm there (another class guy in my opinion). We're fortunate to live in an area where the sports are so competitive.

  • LGD Jul 15, 10:46 p.m.

    I'm a Heels fan, but I'm glad to hear that Wallace Wade is scheduled for an upgrade. Coach Cut... View More

    WOW! I have even more respect for you jgunn. "Cut" said that the team is part of something bigger and they need to realize and do all they can to help the communities in which they inhabit (what a guy). To be honest, all four ACC schools have the coaches they need, facilities are there (and on their way). Your HEELS have an OUTSTANDING recruiting class coming, along with WAKE, NCSU and my DEVILS. I really want the Fall to be exciting around here as well as winter. All of these schools have the cash, the state and the immediate ones on the border produce good talent; it is time to kick some *** on a national scale. I'm pumped and can not wait for fall. It would not surprise me if all four ACC schools, ECU and my boys up on the "ROCK" Appalachian State (I'm a proud Mountaineer) have winning seasons. I had to check the medicine cabinet quickly after saying that being a DUKE football fan. You guys have a good coach in Butch, he knows what it takes, just look at Scout.com.

    GO DUKE!

  • Gunnstigator Jul 15, 6:35 p.m.

    I've never heard this before - it doesn't make any sense as the basketball games are sold out -... View More

    A agree; but, it is changing. Construction is underway for a 75 million dollar upgrade. There... View More

    — Posted by LGD

    I'm a Heels fan, but I'm glad to hear that Wallace Wade is scheduled for an upgrade. Coach Cut is such a first class guy, and an update on facilities will help in his recruiting. Did you see where he had all the players cleaning up the entire Duke campus yesterday morning - for the second time since he's been there. Don't worry about them playing the game - Duke will give us all a run for the money, and soon.

  • LGD Jul 15, 8:38 a.m.

    I've never heard this before - it doesn't make any sense as the basketball games are sold out -... View More

    A agree; but, it is changing. Construction is underway for a 75 million dollar upgrade. There are some new buildings already in place for the 2009 season. The blue print is awesome and will be a very nice stadium in a few years. Years ago, FSU was like a high school stadium, UVA had a bigger dump, all schools build and rebuild. My thing is, just play the **** game.

    GO DUKE!

  • Gunnstigator Jul 15, 6:35 a.m.

    Interestingly, the Dean Dome's operating expenses outpace its intake, keeping the facility in... View More

    — Posted by cdcd48

    I've never heard this before - it doesn't make any sense as the basketball games are sold out - it seems something could be done so that tax money isn't paying for it.

    Other than Wallace Wade Stadium, the triangle venues are beautiful and an asset to recruiting.

  • cdcd48 Jul 15, 12:51 a.m.

    Interestingly, the Dean Dome's operating expenses outpace its intake, keeping the facility in the red. The Dean Dome is then subsidized by state funding authorized by the NC legislature, not UNC athletic booster money to keep it afloat.
    This is the only university athletic venue in the state whose operating costs are paid by taxpayer money, rather than private donations or through event ticket sales.

  • Sauras69 Jul 14, 6:00 p.m.

    Most of the pinch comes in the form of renovations. Schools want better and larger facilities. To keep up in Division I they have to do this. Larger venues, and little more than the guy next door, etc.......UNC planned ahead years ago, and it shows.

    I think they are as good as you will see in all schools in Division I. The Dean Dome was a long time ago. They are set here. And, with Kenan Stadium with the new projects and seating they are well out of reach of some schools.

    NC State has truly done a great job too. I would say that the Triangle overall is in better shape than many other conferences or demographics.

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