The University of Wisconsin’s Athletic Board approved an increased budget in their meeting Friday, in addition to announcing major changes to football scheduling for upcoming seasons.
The Athletic Board voted unanimously to approve its 2013-2014 budget. Athletic Board Finance Chair Mark Covaleski said the $133 million budget will double annual construction capital spending for a new facility and raise salaries and benefits for Athletic Department staff while having about $100,000 in other expenses.
The spike in spending from last year’s $108 million budget comes from an approximately $31 million, one-year expenditure to fund building the Student Athlete Performance Center, according to Randy Marnocha, associate athletic director for business operations. The facility is currently under construction at the north end of Camp Randall Stadium.
Marnocha said ticket prices will remain constant.
“Athletics tries to maintain our ticket budgets and doesn’t want to pass any unnecessary increases,” Marnocha said.
He added revenue decreased by about $2.5 million this past year due to a drop off in parking revenue, which must now be split with UW Transportation Services, and about a $500,000 reduction in men’s hockey ticket sales.
Marnocha noted the increase in salaries for department staff is due to fringe benefits and wage of living increases. He added staff wages will rise between 37 and 97 cents per hour.
The Big Ten will also stop playing games against Football Championship Subdivision teams in coming years, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez announced in the meeting.
Alvarez said the Big Ten’s athletic directors met last week and made three decisions regarding the future of Big Ten sports, particularly for football.
The athletic directors agreed to eliminate all but three recruiting restrictions the NCAA sought to abolish, according to Alvarez. He added they will also add one or two in-conference football games per season and play only Football Bowl Subdivision opponents starting no sooner than the 2016-2017 season.
Alvarez said Big Ten schools will soon face only the top 125 teams in college football to strengthen the conference’s schedules and prepare for new television contracts.
“With the new playoff system coming aboard, one of the criteria is strength of schedule and we wanted to address that within our schedule,” Alvarez said. “If you look at the way our non-conference games went since 1989, they were more FCS teams that were less competitive. For what we signed for in the TV contract, that inventory is not very appealing.”
This decision to eliminate competition against FCS teams, formerly known as Division I-AA, comes after a year where, at one point last season, not a single Big Ten team was ranked in the top 25.
“It’s all cyclical, and I think people understand that,” Alvarez said in an interview with The Badger Herald. “We had the same discussion about basketball in our league a few years ago and right now I think everyone would concede our league in basketball is the strongest. It goes in cycles.”
The Big Ten will also drop its eight-game conference schedule and start playing 9 or 10 games against other Big Ten teams, Alvarez added.