In Sunday's World-Herald, UNO reported a slight budget surplus in the 2011-12 school year for Maverick athletics. OK, very slight: $911 to be precise. The biggest revelation is that state support for UNO athletics was cut to $3 million last year; down significantly from the year before.
Frankly, that's good news for UNO athletics moving forward. The budget problems for Mav athletics has been an ongoing issue for a long, long time, and now we have some definitive proof that this is no longer the case.
Note that doesn't necessarily justify last year's controversial decision to cut football and wrestling by itself. That's a decision that's bigger than the budget issue. In an ideal world, football and wrestling would still be part of UNO athletics.
We don't live in an ideal world, however.
And that's the reason that Maverick football and wrestling no longer exist. Sad, yes. Disappointing, yes. But reality. Football and wrestling ran at a $1.7 million deficit before being cut; the new men's soccer program only lost $158,427 in comparison. So that's a $1.5 million improvement in the bottom line. Hockey revenue is up, showing a $228,346 surplus.
The budget issues with UNO athletics have been well documented since 2006. If boosters were unaware prior to that, that excuse doesn't fly now. Football boosters had five years to solidify the program's financial standing, and it didn't happen. Expecting government to increase funding for athletics is unreasonable in this age when government budgets are being stretched further and further. UNO's $3 million subsidy from the state is apparently down from nearly $6 million.
That's good news for state taxpayers. The fact that UNO's athletic department is on a stable financial basis is good news for the programs that remain and is a credit to Trev Alberts and his team. It's solid evidence that UNO is on the right path moving forward.
It doesn't ease the pain from the termination of football and wrestling. Nothing could do that. But that's not the fault of Alberts or UNO.