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ATHLETIC PROGRAMS ARE HEALTHY AT WEBER STATE, DIRECTOR SAYS

SHARE ATHLETIC PROGRAMS ARE HEALTHY AT WEBER STATE, DIRECTOR SAYS

Despite dwindling subsidies and some slackening of season ticket sales, Weber State University's athletic program continues on the mend, athletic director Dutch Belnap said Wednesday.

Responding angrily to reports that the program is facing another financial crisis, Belnap said, "We're not in trouble. We're one of the few schools in the nation that is staying within its budget. There's not a dozen schools out there that broke even."In fact, the WSU athletic department managed to avoid red ink even after the administration trimmed its subsidy by $120,000 on the way to a gradual $500,000 cut in annual discretionary funding. The phased reduction is scheduled to be completed next year.

Belnap said the athletic program has been replacing those funds with growing revenues from athletic events, marketing income and other activities at the Dee Events Center.

WSU has been closely monitoring its athletic program, especially football, asking that it become more self-sufficient. Faced with the threat of losing football, athletic officials mounted an aggressive campaign to boost support and revenues.

Belnap insists the effort has been a success. Football revenues more than tripled last year, he said. Football is no longer at risk, he added.

Private donations and involvement of the Wildcat Athletic Club also have played a part in the department's recovery, last year generating $160,000 more than the previous year, Belnap said. Overall, the department came within $2,600 of its $3,982,260 budget last year and would have actually turned a profit except for unexpected post-season basketball expenses.