By: Matthew Melchor
One question athletes at McPherson College may have asked themselves is: Where does all the athletic department money go? How is my scholarship money funded? Where do new uniforms come from? Why doesn’t my sport get as much money as others? To get a full grasp on this, you need to look at the larger picture: McPherson College as a whole. Athletics is only a small portion of the college that we all attend, though it may be the main reason some of us are here. According to Rick Tuxhorn, Vice President for Finance, the amount of money allocated to various areas of the school, such as the athletic department, depend on prior history and are determined through a budget process. “Currently of our budget, 11% ($1.8 million) goes to athletics,” stated Tuxhorn. He also said that the number is based on the number of student-athletes. “[The coaches] come up with their expenditures and we see how much they need and we try to meet that,” continued Tuxhorn. Room and board expenses related to athletes are recorded elsewhere, but the 11% reflects the salaries within the athletic department, uniforms, travel expenses, and coaching, just to name a few. “These are called direct athletic expenses and does not include the utilities related to athletics. Utilities are recorded in a different category. If we have any new athletic facilities, those expenses are included in a different category called capital outlay.” Any fundraising done by athletic teams does not go into this percentage either.
Now that the amount of money given to the athletic department has been determined, Andrew Ehling, director of athletics at McPherson College, helped me to understand where all the money goes. “Every coach has the opportunity to propose what the need is for that program. It’s as simple as them just proposing that. A lot of the budget is officials and transportation. That’s where a lot of our spending is, is that.” explained Ehling. Deciding where the money goes has nothing to do with the success of the program, it is all based on the needs of the athletes and amount of athletes on the team. Scholarship money is determined based on how many athletes the sport needs that year. So the track and field team needing five athletes will not get as much scholarship money the next year if they need three. If a student-athlete decides to leave, the scholarship money is not retained by the athletic department. Ehling said he submits a report to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with regards to the scholarship money players are given at the end of every year. “A lot of times, coaches would be able to take that money and apply it towards a new recruit. It could be applied towards an incoming transfer recruit in the spring or to a student next fall. There’s flexibility,” Ehling indicated. The fundraising campaigns done by each sports team raise money that stays within the athletic department to help ensure budgets are fulfilled. The goal, Ehling said, is to raise $250,000 a year for athletics. The funding of the new turf installed on the football field is not funded through the almost $2 million given to the department each year, it’s funded through capital fundraising campaigns like the annual athletics banquet and golf tournament.
Supporting teams at McPherson College is a difficult job from a financial standpoint, as I learned very quickly. Going to nationals is not budgeted by either the athletic department or McPherson College financial office because of the unknown cost of meals, hotel rooms, and travel; however, Tuxhorn stated, “We find a way to get them there.”