FORT WAYNE – Over the past year, the marketing catchphrase for the IPFW athletics teams has been Feel the Rumble, a widespread call to arms for IPFW students and fans to rally behind the 15 Mastodons mens and womens varsity teams.
But for the university that is experiencing budget difficulties, mostly stemming from declining undergraduate enrollment, Feel the Pinch could also represent the athletic departments current situation.
According to the 2011-12 revenue and expenditures report provided to the NCAA, IPFW athletics had a razor-thin $9,034 revenue surplus.
The report showed that IPFW, mostly through $2 million-plus in student services fees and $2.8 million in direct institutional support, had revenue of $7,097,559. Expenditures, with $2.1 million going for student aid and nearly $1 million each for coaches salaries and team travel, totaled $7,088,525.
The numbers are deceiving, according to Tim Heffron, IPFWs senior associate athletic director, who oversees the athletics budget.
The institution gave us $2.8 million to help run this department, out of the $7.1 (million) or whatever, Heffron said. Thats the number the institution needed to give us so that we were balanced. If we didnt have that $2.8 million, wed be down $2.8 million at the end of the year; wed have a negative.
If you look at the direct institutional support line for the average of Division I, Ill bet you its bigger than our entire budget. I guarantee it. I guarantee it.
The bottom line of the bottom line: Were poor, athletic director Tommy Bell said.
Added Heffron: Were just trying to survive.
Competitively in the 2012-13 school year, only the IPFW womens tennis team (23-8, 7-0) was a regular-season champion in the Summit League. However, that team, as well as the second-place womens volleyball (25-7, 12-4) and third-place womens softball (34-16, 12-4) teams, won the leagues postseason tournaments, which enabled them to participate in NCAA tournaments.
The womens teams showing strengthens IPFWs case that it could be competitive in the Horizon League, a conference that Bell has publicly indicated he would like IPFW to eventually join.
Oakland, which has been IPFWs Summit League travel partner, recently left the Summit League and was accepted by the Horizon League.
Basketball would need to be the sport where we would really have to ramp up and grow in, but I think we would be competitive there, Bell said.
The mens basketball team was fifth in the Summit League last season, going 16-17 overall and 7-9 in the conference. The women were fourth (13-17, 8-8).
IPFWs womens basketball team received national recognition when junior forward Amanda Hyde, who was the Summit League Player of the Year, was named national womens scholar-athlete of the year by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association and the Summit League.
But it takes more than competitive teams to join the Horizon League, Bell said. It takes money.
Lets say we have an opportunity to change conference affiliations, Bell said. We know, in our study, that we would have three external affairs people out there beating the bushes.
You need money. You have to up your budget. And the university cant put any more money up, so wed have to go out and do it.
Earlier this year, IPFW announced an $8.4 million budget deficit. The university laid off 18 workers and opted not to fill 24 vacant, non-teaching positions.
With the recent retirement of the universitys endowment officer, Bell said that position has not been filled.
Were on hold right now, he said. Im it right now. Im doing all the development work right now.
Our university is going through a little blip in the road right now. Enrollment is going to go back up. Fees are coming our way. But were having discussions on how were going to fund athletics.