North Texas Daily

Next year’s budget allows for UNT baseball startup

Next year’s budget allows for UNT baseball startup

September 30
07:21 2013

Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer

A “new program contingency” for the athletic department included in the 2014 budget allows the university to spend $600,000 on a new baseball program next year.

The money will cover coach and player recruitment and equipment costs, but it does not include the cost to construct a new stadium.

Chancellor Lee Jackson said the school is pooling private funds to build the stadium.

President V. Lane Rawlins said the $600,000 to start the baseball program would not be used until the school finalized plans to build the stadium. According to the Denton Record Chronicle, Board of Regents Vice Chairman Donald Potts said the school had raised $3 million as of August and is planning to build a $7 million stadium.

Jackson said the board put the allowance in the budget because they hope the stadium plans will be finalized soon.

“There’s certainly a hope and probably an expectation that this news will crystallize during this fiscal year,” he said. “We have the land available. We have private fundraising underway with some success. [Baseball is] a more important sport in our new conference than it has been in past.”

Rawlins said starting a baseball program was one of the conditions for UNT joining Conference USA last spring.

While he does not expect baseball to be a net profit for UNT for at least a few years, Rawlins said increased television revenue from changing to a more prominent conference is one of many factors that help offset baseball costs.

Looking at the big picture, Rawlins said much of the $600,000 is scholarship money that is fed right back to UNT. He also said baseball’s popularity in North Texas could increase the university’s enrollment.

“Budgeting for athletics is a very complicated thing,” Rawlins said. “You have to take into account that a lot of the expenses on baseball are paid right back to the university.”

Rawlins said the athletic department’s three main revenue streams – tuition, ticket and concession revenue and allowances from the university – all hastened last year. This is where the money to start the program is coming from.

Athletic Director Rick Villarreal said that area interest in baseball would be a factor for UNT, and it would help the university put a winning team together. Though the school hasn’t officially approved a baseball team, Villarreal said he’s receiving daily calls and emails asking about a potential coaching position.

“There has always been a lot of interest in baseball here,” he said. “It was one of the first things I was asked about when I came here. It’s going to have the ability to attract great teams here because of where we are.”

John Mocek, the senior athletic director for finance at the University of Texas at Arlington, said he thinks $600,000 will get UNT baseball off the ground in a big way.

UTA’s current annual baseball budget is $772,000, which covers salaries, scholarships and travel money. He said if the stadium is taken care of, the start up money should put UNT ahead of the competition.

“If you’ve got $600,000 as a startup, and that’s got nothing to do with the yearly operating budget, I’d figure that’s plenty to get you up and running,” Mocek said. “You’re going to get a good pool of coaches, that’s for sure. It sounds like [UNT has] a pretty good head start.”

Graphic by Aidan Barrett / Senior Staff Photographer

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