Straight talk: Does K-State Athletics take money from the academic budget?
In fact, K-State Athletics (KSA) is the lone athletic department in the state and one of only eight across the country to operate with no direct university and student funding or state support. In 2018, KSA provided $10 million to the university budget for tuition and fees and annual institutional support fees, not to mention the premium seating KSA allots for its student sections at prices that have not increased since 2009. The gameday experience KSA creates for all students and fans is another less quantifiable but important value provided to the university. Last year, students and fans could enjoy the success of a football team that went on to win its second straight bowl game and a men’s basketball team that made an exciting run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Annually, KSA also provides $200,000 to the university’s Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band’s budget, another example of its commitment to the university and all students.
K-State Athletics began the process toward self-sufficiency in 2010 when 6.1 percent of its budget, roughly $2.6 million, came from direct university support. By 2016, KSA had eliminated all direct support received. Last spring, under new athletics director Gene Taylor, KSA took another step toward helping the university and its students. In conjunction with the Student Government Association (SGA), KSA agreed to end its annual receipt of student privilege fees beginning in 2018-19, a year earlier than originally planned. The legislation eliminated the scheduled $200,000 KSA was to receive from SGA for fiscal year 2019.
How philanthropy made KSA’s self-sufficiency possible
The generosity of thousands of Kansas State University fans makes KSA’s ability to operate without direct university and student funding or state support possible. Each dollar gifted to the Ahearn Fund not only goes directly toward supporting Wildcat student-athletes, it also, indirectly, helps alleviate the need for financial support from the university, its students or the state.
- In FY18, more than 8,000 Wildcat fans gave $30.9 million to the Ahearn Fund, and $18.9 million of KSA’s revenue, or roughly 25 percent, came from these gifts. Add in the support from ticket sales, and K-State’s fans accounted for more than 43 percent of KSA’s revenue.
- The Ahearn Fund’s National Leadership Circle (NLC), donors who give at least $10,000 annually, has more than 475 members across 19 states.
- Of those NLC members, 40 percent gave to the Ahearn Excellence fund, meaning their gifts went beyond priority seating and capital gifts and provide support to the greatest needs of K-State student-athletes.
“One of the beautiful things about K-State is our fans are extremely supportive of our program. I would say our fans support us, pound-for-pound, equally as well as anybody in the country. The great thing about their gifts are that they go directly to support student-athletes. They can feel pretty good that the success of our programs, the success of our student-athletes, really comes from their support.”— Gene Taylor, K-State Athletics director
“Together, K-State Athletics and the Student Governing Association have ensured the best student section, consistently low ticket prices for tight budgets, and each year students continually have their voice heard for what they want to see on game day. Last spring, the partnership between K-State Athletics and SGA reached a peak as funding to athletics, provided by student fees, was eliminated. That decision allows dollars to be redistributed and used for additional needs across campus.” – Jordan Kiehl, 2018-19 student body president
K-State Athletics’ support of K-State in FY17
- One of eight universities nationally to operate without receiving money from the state, university or students.
- Only athletic department in Kansas to operate without state, university or student funds.
- Contributed $10 million to the university budget.
- Provided $200,000 to the Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band’s budget.
- $10 million of the Ahearn Fund goes to scholarships for student-athletes.
- KSA achieved a balanced budget and surplus for ninth consecutive year.
- $0 in state tax revenue.
- $0 from the State of Kansas budget.
- $0 directly from K-State budget.
- $0 from K-State student fees (beginning FY19)