FAIRBORN — A study presented for Wright State University’s Board of Trustees has concluded staying at the NCAA Division I level with its athletic programs is the university’s best course of action.
The findings were released on Dec. 14 as part of a joint research project with MRJ Advisors, LLC.
Studying whether the university could reduce costs by moving down levels to D-II or D-III were found to be marginal, with the most growth potential remaining associated with having D-I athletic programs.
Wright State’s athletic department in the 2019 fiscal year nearly doubled the revenue and expense totals of the average Division II athletic program, rounding close to $12 million in both categories compared to $6.5 million for lower division schools. The same totals ranked the Raiders program seventh amongst the 10 Horizon League members which the school has been a member of since 1994.
The report also showed between 2016 and 2020 an increase in revenue through outside supporting measures, but a decrease in self-generated funds. The athletic department showed to operate at a $642,000 average annual net-loss during that same five-year period.
MRJ encouraged the university to grow external revenue opportunities through the creation of a five-year plan which should include ticketing, annual giving, corporate partnerships and multi-media rights, as well as concessions, parking and merchandising.
The study also concluded that the university should strategically reinstate programs in order to maintain D-I status requirements. Wright State in June 2020 announced cuts of softball, as well as men’s and women’s tennis in an effort to reduce spending. The moves reduced the number of sponsored sports to 11, six for women and five for men.
In order for a school to maintain D-I status, it must have a minimum of seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender. Wright State received a temporary waiver from the NCAA to remain in compliance.
Looking into adding a football program was made part of the study should Wright State move to the D-II or D-III level. Division III programs do not offer scholarship opportunities for athletes. Wright State curently has a club football team that is a member of the Mid-Atlantic West Conference.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.