While academics is shouldering a hefty 63.4 percent of the $5 million budget shortfall at USM, the Athletics Department will only see a cut of less than 2 percent in its operating budget. In addition, the recreation manager position has been eliminated and another position related to equipment management will see a reduction in pay.
The Department of Athletics’s total operating budget, including payroll and general operations, is approximately $2.8 million. Chief Student Affairs Officer Craig Hutchinson, who oversees the department, stated that the athletics operating budget was cut by $35,000, which amounts to half of the average faculty salary at USM.
According to the Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool, between the 23 sports teams at USM, there are 23 head coaches and 47 assistant coaches who work with the 487 student athletes at the university.
The University of Maine, in comparison, has 15 teams with 34 associate or assistant coaching positions for 535 student athletes. Unlike USM, they do not have golf, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball, men’s soccer and wrestling.
In the 2012 fiscal year, the Salaried Employees Compensation and Classification Program reported that USM granted 44 raises while AFUM faculty have not had a raise since 2009 when they were granted a 1.5 percent raise. Twelve of the raises were given to head coaches at USM, ranging from a 3 to 25 percent increase. Wrestling coach Joe Pistone was given a 14 percent raise, amounting to $1,400.40 in 2012. According to University of Maine System documents, Pistone has received an additional raise of $3,810.73, totalling a raise of $5,211.13 since 2012.
While the rest of the university, including academic affairs, continues to be scoured for more potential cuts, Hutchinson said that “no other reductions in the athletics area are being considered at this time.”
In a meeting last week with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Stevenson and Executive Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell, Free Press staff members asked if the Athletic Department will see any additional cuts in the near future. “I honestly don’t know, but I do know that we continue to have conversations. It’s certainly the case that everything’s on the table,” said Stevenson.
Talks of cuts from the Athletics Department have not been a priority or even commonly mentioned at numerous budget meetings so far. “I have been in no meetings or conversations where there’s [sic] been detailed conversation about athletics,” said Caswell. “That conversation hasn’t taken place or at least any conversation that I’ve been a part of.”
The average salary for a head coach at USM is $41,569.88. In comparison, the average faculty member, without benefits, makes $70,000. One of the highest paying coaches at USM is head baseball coach Ed Flaherty, who was also one of the coaches to receive a raise in 2012. Since then, Flaherty has seen a $10,043.38 pay increase, rising from $72,411.62 to $82,433, making $12,433 more than the faculty average. During Flaherty’s 28 seasons at USM, the Huskies have won two national titles, and in 2005, he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Overall, the team has been relatively successful.
The University of Maine, a Division I school in the NCAA and the flagship campus of the University of Maine System, also has a very successful baseball program, with seven College World Series appearances. Their head coach, Steve Trimper, made $77,499.96 in 2013. Their baseball staff consists of Trimper, two assistant coaches and one volunteer assistant coach compared to USM’s five assistant coaches.
USM will continue to experience over $12 million in cuts over the next four years, according to Chief Financial Officer Dick Campbell’s estimate, and Provost Stevenson stressed again that the process is not over.
“We continue to look, whether in athletics or other places, for opportunities to make sure we are offering the right things to the right numbers of people, you know, where the right demands are,” said Stevenson.
USM student athletes make up only 9 percent of the 4,418 full-time undergraduate population. According to Caswell, USM’s athletics, even by Division III standards is not heavily staffed, but he also stressed the benefits of the program for the university. “Their retention rates and graduation rates are higher than the general student body generally as a whole, so before cutting into that program, that would be something that would have to be considered.”
According to the Student-Athlete Handbook, student athletes are “held to a higher standard than the average student,” which helps with higher retention and graduation rates Caswell mentioned. Student athletes are required to be in good academic standing and must attend study sessions for a certain number of hours a week in order to stay eligible. Sophomore economics major Emmalee Tracy was surprised to hear about the cuts in the Athletics Department.
“It’s not that our sports teams aren’t good, it’s just that they’re not a focal point for most students,” said Tracy. “I would assume USM values academics more than sports.”
Athlete or non-athlete, it’s the student’s education that is on the line. Students will be affected by the $5 million budget cut. While academics are taking the biggest hit, the athletics department will stay afloat, for now.
Honestly if we didnt have a great sports program… we would have no students living on campus and we would have seen a greater deficit in money loss. Flaherty is the best coach we have on campus and he attracts a lot of students to come here. And arguably our baseball program is better at USM than Orono. That’s stone cold truth right there. We have had a lot of Division I baseball athletes drop down to DivsionIII just to play for Flaherty. Therefore if one man is attracting a lot of students to come here leave him out of it. He is earning that money. He deserves it for the amount of attraction this school gets. If our athletics program got cut a lot we wouldnt have any more money. Our education is important, but there are a lot of professors on this campus, in my opinion getting paid way to much who instead of teaching like to make students lives hell. They drive away income. Athletics brings it in.
While the article raises some valid points, a good deal of the numbers in relation to coaching staffs at USM vs. UM are misleading or inaccurate. Example: the comparison between Flaherty and Trimper at UM. Yes, Flaherty makes more than Trimper, but he has a far superior track record AND he assumes additional responsibilities at USM such as game management, whereas Trimper only has to worry about his position as head baseball coach. Additionally, while it is true that Trimper only has 3 assistants compared to Flaherty’s 5 assistants, two of Trimper’s assistants are FULL-TIME positions, while none of Flaherty’s assistants could be considered anything close to full-time.
“between the 23 sports teams at USM, there are 23 head coaches and 47 assistant coaches. . . The University of Maine, in comparison, has 15 teams with 34 associate or assistant coaching positions”
A few problems with these numbers;
#1) Total sports. To get to 23 sports at USM you have to count cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track as 3 sports. The numbers for UM aren’t according to the same criteria, and if you use the same criteria, you’re at 17 sports, 18 if you count cheering as USM does.
#2) Coaching numbers. At USM 23 sports does not equal 23 individual head coaches. Cross, country, indoor, and outdoor track all have the same head coach, as does men’s and women’s tennis. Plus, a number of the head coaches at USM are not full-time positions, and those that are include other responsibilities besides coaching, e.g. game management, donor outreach, equipment room, etc. So, of the “23 head coaches”, we’re looking at about 11 who are full-time, equal to the 11 full-time head coaches at UM (who do not have additional responsibilities).
It’s the next number that really throws things out of whack. “47 assistant coaches” at USM, vs. “34 associate or assistant coaches” at UM. So 47 isn’t likely an inaccurate number, but zero of those 47 are full-time positions, many are volunteer, and almost all are paid no more than a few thousand dollars a year, most a few hundred dollars.
At UM, the article claims 34 associate or assistant coaches. 20 of those are full-time positions, while another 10 or so are somewhere between part-time and full-time.
At a time of budget cuts, the role of athletics is always going to be a hot-button topic, but if an argument is to be proposed for athletics to assume a great burden in budget slashing, than the argument needs to be based on accurate facts and figures. While some of the number may be technically accurate, in context, they are quite inaccurate and have the potential to lead to confusion and unfounded anger.
Al, stop posting in the comments. It’s your job to be quiet and run the place.
okay…. but the point is that Athletics aren’t being considered for budget cuts at an ACADEMIC institution. Too many faculty have been laid off and yet the Athletics department, as a whole, are barely seeing cuts. The article should have mentioned that NOBODY CARES ABOUT SPORTS AT USM.
There are a lot of students here that pay a lot of money to live on campus for sports. And honestly. Most of the people complaining about this are music studentsand im sorry your budget got cut but only 10 people graduated from the music program last year. Over 50 athletes graduate per year and they have better grades and just as good as an education. Athletics brings in the money this school sees. You cut athletics you cut a lot more programs at this schiol because no students would come…
Athletics brings in students, “with better graduation & retention rate” which = $$$$
USM has 487 athletes according to this article.
Lets say they all pay $8,000 instate tuition rates (many of which pay more $$)
Thats about $4,000,000 in tuition. (this is excluding out of state tuition $20,000+ more dollars and room & board $8,000+ dollars which many athletes pay as well)
Increased Enrollment = More Money
Cuts to the athletic department will only turn away more athletes.
USM should be requiring coaches to fill every possible roster spot on their team & be actively recruiting more students to enroll at USM.
The athletics budget is Functional, We need to optimize enrollment results from it by requiring coaches to recruit more athletes. Many sports teams at USM have not maxed out their roster space.
Coach Flaherty = G.O.A.T.