“Equity” is one of the words athletic director Tim Murray strongly believes in. It is he and his staff who figure out how to divide funding across the athletics department, including equipment, uniforms, transportation, field, and facility use.
In total, there are 23 Division I teams and over 18 combined club and intramural sports teams for Murray and the administration to account for. According to the Marist Student Life page, over 700 students are Division I athletes and 65 percent of the student population is a member of at least one intramural or club team.
That’s a lot of students and a lot of resources Murray and his administration have to spread out. So how do they do it? What do Division I teams get that club or intramural teams may not get? How does funding get spread out throughout all the teams at all levels?
What’s most important to know is that the Division I teams get priority on the facilities used: Tenney Stadium, McCann’s gray gym, indoor turf, classrooms, and the weight room specifically designed for the athletes. However, Murray and his administration give each team specific days and times in which they can use the facilities. For Tenney Stadium, outdoor Division I teams have the field from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Then from 9 p.m. to midnight, Tenney Stadium, the gray gym, and the indoor turf fields are reserved for club and intramural teams to use.
In terms of funding, Division I teams get the most amount of money out of all the other teams combined. According to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) Marist filed for the 2020-21 season, the athletics department spent $10.09 million, $4.48 million on the men’s teams, and $5.61 million on the women’s teams. Men’s basketball took up $1.94 million of that spending, the most out of every team, while women’s basketball took up $1.63 million, the most money spent on any women’s team.
The EADA document, however, doesn’t take into account football, men’s soccer, or men’s and women’s swimming because their seasons were canceled a season ago due to COVID-19. In a normal year, football would have topped every sport in terms of how much is spent according to Murray, and men’s soccer would’ve fallen somewhere in the top 10 in spending.
According to the EADA, these expenses include but are not limited to, ‘appearance guarantees and options, athletically related student aid, contract services, equipment, fundraising activities, operating expenses, promotional activities, recruiting expenses, salaries, and benefits, supplies, travel.’
“Look at it as three buckets: there’s operational dollars, recruiting, and then there’s scholarship money,” said Murray.
The expenses listed above are in the operational budget, or the first bucket as Murray describes it. The people in charge of creating this budget are vice president of Marist Deborah DiCaprio and executive vice president Geoffrey Bracket. Essentially, Murray recommends a certain budget to DiCaprio, who then reviews it and adjusts any numbers she feels need adjusting and sends the revised budget over to Brackett. He then reviews it and vetoes or approves it.
For club and intramural sports, funding also comes from an operational budget organized by Student Government Association (SGA), mostly from tuition and “dues paid by the students.” The key difference, in this case, is that it’s Murray and assistant athletic director for intramural/club sports/camp Julie Byron who recommends a budget to director of student activities Robert Lynch.
The second bucket Murray describes is recruiting. Last year, a total of $121,000 was spent on recruiting, $67,000 for men’s teams and $54,000 for women’s teams. The aspects that are included in the recruiting budget are, ‘lodging, meals, telephone use, and transportation for recruiting purposes.’
Every sport has a specific sum of money they’re allowed to spend. Going off the “Game Day Expenses” and “Total Expenses” sections of the EADA, swimming, diving, rowing, track and field, and cross country are in the bottom half of how much is spent on a game day, and throughout a total season out of all the Division I teams. Uncoincidentally, the revenue these teams bring in is also in the bottom half. It’s safe to assume that the teams listed above also get the least amount of recruitment funding.
What’s also important to point out is that teams aren’t obligated to spend every last penny of their recruitment budget as swim and dive team head coach Anthony Randall points out.
“We can spend our recruiting budget a little bit differently because we don’t necessarily always have to see every recruit like other sports,” said Randall. “Once you’re on the road recruiting, Marist does cover all your expenses, but if I’m traveling to a meet that’s within three hours, I’m less likely to need that reimbursement and I could put that money into something else.”
For sports like soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and football, it is incredibly important to see the potential recruit in action to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in-game and perhaps get a chance to talk to them after a game. Hence, why these sports have much more to spend on their recruiting budgets because they have to watch their recruits in person.
The final bucket Murray discusses is scholarship money. Marist gives out scholarships in all sports except men’s rowing and football. Men’s and women’s basketball offers 13, occasionally 14, athletic scholarships to the student-athletes, the most out of any other sport.
“The scholarship budget is allocated by sport, so I recommend to the coaches and to financial aid that this young man or young woman gets X amount of dollars to help offset the cost of their tuition to be an athlete here at Marist,” said Murray. “All the money is appropriated through the financial aid office at our recommendation.
A year ago, Marist spent approximately $6.68 million on student aid, which includes ‘scholarships, grants, and ‘other financial assistance.’ $3.6 million was spent on the women’s teams and $3.08 million was spent on the men’s teams.
So where does all of this money come from?
Primarily, it comes from these three categories: tuition, donations from alums, and revenue, all parts of the operational budget. There are also more nuanced details that are described in the EADA, including ‘appearance guarantees and options, an athletic conference (MAAC, PFL), tournament/bowl games, concessions, donations from alumni/others, institutional support, program advertising, radio and tv, royalties, signage, sponsorships, sports camps, state/government support, student activity fees, ticket and luxury box sales.’
Now, there’s going to be more money coming into the MAAC after Saint Peter’s historic March Madness run to the Elite Eight. The Peacocks earned the MAAC at least $8.1 million after upsetting Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue a month ago, money that will be paid by the NCAA over the next six years. MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor and the presidents of the MAAC schools will have to decide how to distribute the money and talks will be taking place soon.
“We’re trying to get a call that starts talking about these things and chances are a lot of the money will be put back into basketball to help the league as a whole, develop our basketball programs,” said Murray. “That’ll probably be what ends up happening, but it’s the president’s decision.”
If Marist president Kevin Weinman decides not to use the money to fund the basketball team, it may be used to fund the rest of the athletic teams.
Whatever Weinman decides, it won’t matter much for the rest of the teams because money will never be an issue here at Marist, according to Murray. One way or another there will always be enough money to ensure each team from Division I through intramurals gets sufficient funding.
Edited by Bridget Reilly and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Jonathan Kinane