The University of Wyoming athletics department hopes football coach Craig Bohl’s new contract won’t require any further infusions of state dollars, but students could be expected to pick up some of the cost where internal revenue cannot.
Right before UW’s biggest game in its history taking on San Diego State at War Memorial Stadium in the Mountain West Championship, it was announced Bohl signed a contract extension that made him one of the highest-paid coaches in the conference.
The terms extended Bohl’s contract through 2023 at a base salary of $1.4 million in 2017 with annual raises and incentive packages.
Tier I incentives — including monies for season-ticket sales and regular-season wins — could amount to as much as $250,000 annually, but Athletics Director Tom Burman said it’s more realistic to assume it would be in a $160,000 range. Tier II incentives — including what Burman said are “difficult to achieve” benchmarks such as winning a Mountain West Championship — are capped at $200,000 in the contract’s first three years, bumping up to $250,000 for years 4-6 and $300,000 in the seventh and final year.
To pay for the significant investment in Bohl, Burman said the model is designed to cover the cost internally.
“I think there’s a whole bunch of ways to generate additional revenue and we are confident we’ll be able to cover the cost of investment in Wyoming football,” Burman said during a Wednesday teleconference of UW’s Board of Trustees.
Bohl’s base salary, starting at $300,000 for 2017, comes from section I funding, UW’s general operating budget. UW allocated about $9.6 million to athletics in section I funds in the current fiscal year.
The remaining $1.1 million in guaranteed compensation for Bohl in 2017 would come from revenue sources such as ticket sales, private donations, corporate sponsorship deals, media rights contracts and revenue from beer and wine sales at UW home football and basketball games starting in 2017.
Without knowing where the state’s economy will go in coming years — UW is currently wrestling with a $41 million reduction in state funding — Burman said the athletics department isn’t expecting any increases in funding from the state or university. Though the plan is to cover the contract with self-generated dollars, he said it’s possible athletics could request an increase in student fees to cover deficits.
“I’m modeling this in a fashion that I assume there will be no increase in state support or university support, unless it would come from a modest student fee increase in the coming years,” Burman said.
The number of season ticket holders fell from about 10,000 in 2011 to about 7,000 in 2016, with an average of 8,700 through a 10-year period until 2012. Following a successful 2016 football season, Burman said he expects ticket sales to increase in 2017 — amounting to about $300,000 in revenue — with an approximate 7 percent increase each year after, generating approximately $161,000 in additional funding annually.
“Getting back to the 8,000-8,500 number is very doable,” he said.
Burman said a ticket price increase could also be a substantial factor.
“(Ticket prices) have not been increased in four years, and we are planning to increase them,” he said. “We’ve been doing some analysis of the market and other schools to see where we think we can push those prices into going into 2017.”
By playing “guarantee games,” where UW football is paid to play an away game, around $3.2 million could be generated in three games between 2017-2022, with more contracts being negotiated, Burman said. UW is scheduled to play the University of Iowa, Clemson University and the University of Illinois with payouts in each guarantee game. Additionally, UW has several upcoming home games with top tier football programs, with revenue estimated around just less than $4 million. With beer and wine, Burman said it’s estimated another $250,000 annually could be generated. A 5 percent increase in Cowboy Joe Club donations generated from excitement surrounding the football program’s success in 2016 could amount to another $175,000, Burman said.
“I think we’re going to see larger and more frequent investments from the private sector and people of Wyoming,” Burman said.
While Bohl is one of the highest paid coaches in the Mountain West, Burman said the assistant coaches are underpaid, with no increases since 2013. Trustee Mike Massie said he wanted to know if providing such increases could result in athletics asking for more general fund monies.
“With these increases, I suspect the assistant coaches are going to want increases,” Massie said.
Bohl wants increases for his coaches and is in the process of determining what the fair market value is, Burman said. Though it would be an additional investment in a yet unknown amount, Burman said he continues to remain optimistic the costs could be covered with self-generated revenue.
“We are in the process of working through that,” he said.