Is UNC-CH’s Budget As Trim As Possible?

Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, Pat Sullivan, Phil Ford, and Dave Hanners. All of them are former coaches for men’s basketball at UNC-CH. Yet every one of them is currently on UNC-CH’s payroll.

UNC-CH’s athletic department had shortfalls in fiscal years 1996 and 1997 and had $427,626 in revenue in fiscal year 1998, which was due to an increase of $2,314,141 in revenue and a decrease of $240,087 in expenses. The year before, however, revenue increased $1,860,891 while expenses increased by $2,806,053.

UNC-CH’s athletic department at the time of these budget figures had only five coaches in the basketball program. Now they have nine former and current coaches either working as consultants (Dean Smith and possibly Bill Guthridge), assistant athletic director for basketball (also Dean Smith), an unspecified position in the athletic department (Bill Guthridge), a possible transfer to an administrative position (Phil Ford), being paid until a job is accepted for one year (Pat Sullivan and Dave Hanners), or coaching (Matt Doherty and his assistant coaches).

According to a News & Observer article on July 12, 2000, Martina Ballen, the Associate Athletic Director for Business, expects the department to meet its budget. Part of the reason she expects to make ends meet is because of Florida State’s national championship in football. The ACC has a revenue-sharing plan that allows the school that made the money to keep about half of the revenue, with the rest shared among the other eight schools. UNC-CH’s cut of the money is expected to cover any shortfalls elsewhere in the budget. However, with four new coaches on the payroll and three former coaches on the payroll possibly until the next fiscal year, the athletic budget is obviously going to grow.

What happens to the budget if Florida State and the other teams in the ACC do not perform as well as expected in the bowls at the end of the season? The bowl revenue is somewhat fixed because of minimum payouts to the teams involved, but last year the ACC, for the second time since Florida State joined the ACC, had five teams in bowls. UNC-CH cannot count on five teams getting to bowls this year. UNC-CH might go to a bowl, but most college football experts believe that this is a rebuilding year for the football team. The possibility of a bowl remains, but again UNC-CH can’t count its chickens before they’re hatched.

UNC-CH’s retention of the former coaches is, at best, a good-intentioned misuse of the athletic department’s money. Taking care of the “Carolina Family” is a loyal but wasteful idea. UNC-CH has turned out coaches for twenty years and they have the reputation of Dean Smith behind them, if nothing else. Roy Williams makes $1 million a year at Kansas, and George Karl and Larry Brown have hefty NBA salaries of around $6 million a year. Eddie Fogler is less successful, but he is still at South Carolina making money and coaching. Pat Sullivan, Dave Hanners, and possibly (if UNC-CH lets him go) Phil Ford will almost certainly be able to find coaching jobs (assistant coaching jobs or head coaching jobs) in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

The money that could be saved by not having the former coaches on the payroll could probably fund another varsity sport. UNC-CH could keep the money to help pay off any shortfalls in the budget. UNC-CH could use the leftover money to help pay for projects that otherwise would have to be paid for totally by the university bonds. UNC-CH’s athletic department could pay off more of its debt. UNC-CH could find better and more efficient uses for the money than paying former basketball coaches.