South Carolina State University’s athletic director has asked trustees to add about $1 million to the department’s budget next year.

Athletic Director Stacy Danley says the money is needed to make the program competitive.

“Where does the athletic department fit into the university’s mission?” Danley asked the S.C. State trustees last week.

Danley spoke to the trustees during their monthly board meeting, which was held last Tuesday at Camp Harry E. Daniels in Elloree.

“How should the athletic department be funded? What does it take for us to be sustainable and successful at the Division One level or really to return to that sustainable, successful division level one?” Danley said.

“Our role is to raise the profile of South Carolina State,” he said. “South Carolina State has a sports culture. Can we get back to that point?”

The board stopped short of approving the request, but did affirm the importance of the university’s athletics program.

Trustees did agree that the request will be considered as part of the university’s overall budget process.

The university has spent an average of $5 million a year on its athletic department over the past five years.

On average, athletics generates about $2 million in revenues from ticket sales, parking fees, concessions, and sponsorships, Danley said.

The extra $1 million would be used for:

• $276,000 to maintain Title IX compliance such as improving track; upgrading scoreboards and locker rooms and improving practice facilities, meeting and training spaces.

• $239,000 for student-athlete scholarships.

• $161,000 for revenue-generating personnel such as a director of marketing, director of sales and assistant athletic director development/community relations.

• $122,000 for assistant coaches.

• $94,000 for athletics business efficiency personnel.

• $54,000 for game-day enhancement personnel.

• $54,000 for NCAA Title IX Compliance personnel.

Danley noted that compared with other Division I Football Championship Subdivision benchmarks in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, S.C. State’s seven-year average athletic department budget has fallen below the average spent by other MEAC programs.

Danley noted that the university in 2015 spent $12.7 million on its athletics program, which was down to $7.8 million in 2019. The average MEAC athletic budget in 2019 was $12.5 million.

The largest budget was $17 million and the smallest was $4.4 million among MEAC schools in 2019.

Trustee Dr. Doris Helms expressed some hesitancy about the request.

“I know we have to enhance our facilities,” she said.

Helms said if the university is going to spend $1 million more on its athletics department, she wants to make sure she has a better grasp of the ramifications.

“I think I need to know where it (the money) is going to come from,” she said.

Helms noted the university has had to reduce faculty and staff in some areas.

“We have offices that don’t have enough people to run them,” Helms said.

Trustee Dr. Daniel Varat said he is for the increase and said the request is “legitimate.”

“Investing in athletics has faster and greater payoff than anywhere else in the university,” Varat said. “A strong athletic program will make the university better.”

Prior to the board’s decision, Danley noted the university’s athletic department falls into the university’s overall five-year strategic plan created in 2018.

Two of strategic plan’s goals include enhancing student enrollment and success and improving the campus environment.

Improving the campus environment includes updating athletic facilities, Danley said.

The university’s strategic plan also called for enhancing the university brand, which includes enhancing the Marching 101 Band and athletics program.

Danley touted the value of the university’s athletics department, noting athletes make up 14% of the student population and that student athletes graduate at a 13% higher rate than the rest of the student body.

He also noted that athletics is a big part of the university’s experience, as 62,000 alumni came to see the Bulldogs play in 2019-2020. He said an average of 15,000 people come for homecoming.

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