The University of New Mexico’s Department of Athletics jointly presented a line-by-line budget breakdown by sport with President Stokes’ appointed budget team to the Board of Regents Finance and Facilities Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting served as a preview this Friday’s UNM Board of Regents meeting, where the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget will be up for approval and sent to the New Mexico Higher Education Department (HED).
The in-depth budget analysis to view sports side by side was mandated by the Board of Regents on April 17 after the regents adopted the department’s plan to balance the next two years’ budgets and repayment schedule for millions in accumulated deficit to the University.
The University's approval of the proposal on April 17 fulfilled the May 1 deadline set by HED to have a repayment plan set into place.
HED Deputy Cabinet Secretary Andrew Jacobson spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, telling the regents that HED was satisfied with UNM’s compliance with the Enhanced Fiscal Oversight Program — a method of oversight implemented by the state to reduce fraud and waste at public institutions — and would review the budgets at a later date.
“We’re pleased that UNM is meeting the request,” Jacobson said.
The line-by-line budget is the first step in preparation for cutting sports from the program.
Stokes tasked the Department of Athletics at the April 10 Finance and Facilities meeting to determine a list of criteria for eliminating sports.
“We are better off supporting fewer sports and doing it well, than stretching ourselves too thin and compromising the high-quality experience our student-athletes should expect from this institution,” Stokes said at the time.
Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said the final decision as to which sports get cut from the program will be announced on July 1.
Nuñez told reporters in a press conference Tuesday the criteria to cut sports includes finances, but is not the sole factor in determining which sports get cut.
“When it comes to the criteria of assessing our sports, I think what everybody needs to understand we’re compiling everything — not just the financial side,” Nuñez said. “We’re looking at the donor ramifications, the fan base, the student athletes.”
The Daily Lobo asked Nuñez what the process looked like to develop the criteria in the press conference. He said that he personally met with all the coaches individually and a student-athlete representative from each sport to gather facts and get perspectives on the issues.
“Ultimately, to let them know they have a voice in this process, and so do our coaches,” Nuñez said. “I want everyone to feel like there’s going to be an opportunity for them to say what they want to say.”
22 sports are currently supported by the UNM’s athletics department.
Nuñez said the department would release the criteria before the July 1 deadline, but did not specify when.
Danielle Prokop is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ProkopDani.