MSUB Releases Results of Athletics Feasibility Study
June 26, 2015
Krista Montague, Athletic Director, 657-2061
Evan O’Kelly, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, 657-2195
Aaron Clingingsmith, University Relations & Communications, 657-2243
MSUB released on Friday the findings and results of a year-long independent sports feasibility study.
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — After retaining Strategic Edge Athletic Consulting in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Montana State University Billings Department of Intercollegiate Athletics with the end goal of developing a revitalized strategic plan, one component of the evaluation - MSUB’s Athletics Feasibility Study - has been finalized and released, announced athletics officials Friday.
“After a year-long review performed by Strategic Edge Athletic Consulting we are excited to begin implementing the findings from our Athletics Feasibility Study,” commented MSUB director of athletics Krista Montague. “The study provided us with valuable insight which will assist with the construction of a revitalized strategic plan for our department, which is the next phase of the comprehensive study. We would like to thank all of our community members who took time to take part in this process, as the feedback we received was vital in completing all aspects of the study.”
The focus of the comprehensive evaluation was the current structure of MSUB Athletics and providing a future model to best fit within the conference and university as a whole. A portion of the study examined the possibility of expanding sports offerings to MSUB’s current structure, and the feasibility of sustaining these sports based on current student enrollment and funding.
The initial purpose of the study was to examine the feasibility of reintroducing the sport of football at MSUB; it became clear that the addition of football – which would yield approximately 100 male students – would not come without the addition of women’s sports to address the Title IX proportionality requirements. The sports of women’s rugby and women’s lacrosse were included in the study as examples of sports that could be added to increase the number of participation opportunities for student-athletes and to illustrate the costs MSUB could expect to incur when sports are added.
“The results of the study led us to the conclusion that facilities for the sports that MSUB currently sponsors and for our entire student body should take priority in terms of funding and allocation of resources, said Montague.” MSUB currently has several programs that are without adequate facilities for competition, including track and field, as well as baseball, which both rent off-campus practice and game facilities.
“We are fortunate to hold our games in one of the premier facilities across Division II in Dehler Park, however we do face the challenge of not having a true practice facility on campus,” commented Rob Bishop, MSUB head baseball coach. “Not to mention, there is overcrowding in areas which we share with the entire student body, including our current fitness center and weight room. We rent time at both our practice and game facilities, and we do not have a fully functioning indoor facility which is vital during Montana’s harsh winters. These challenges present a limitation to our program that could be alleviated with the addition of a multi-purpose field house.”
From a financial standpoint, the reintroduction of football, along with additional women’s sports (using women’s rugby and women’s lacrosse as an example) require significant annual funding to be sustainable. The estimated startup cost (not including facilities) is valued at $1.275 million in the study. Annual ongoing costs to sustain football are 1.1 million, with the two additional women’s sports at approximately $690,000 and non-gender recurring expenses tallying $326,000. The gross annual expenditures for adding these sports totals $2.2 million before the ground is broken on needed facilities. The study illustrates $10-11 million is required for a fully-functional on-campus stadium, and an additional $9 million is required for construction of practice, conditioning, and strength facilities sufficient for all existing programs. The total cost of new facilities is approximately $20 million.
Prior to any sports specific funding allocations, the university has made it known that its priority is the completion of Yellowstone Hall, as well as on-campus events center for faculty staff and students. Another crucial factor examined was MSUB’s current athletics structure based on the university’s enrollment. With a percentage of the university’s general operating budget being allocated to athletics, enrollment growth must mirror this percentage before additional funding for athletics can be justified. Before entertaining the idea of adding sports, the university must exceed 7,000 full-time equivalent students.
The conclusions drawn from the Athletics Feasibility Study suggest that with the current state of MSUB’s athletic department and the university as a whole, it does not appear to be feasible or sustainable to add multiple sports at this time.
“The main focus of MSUB’s athletic department is to increasingly support each and every one of the student-athletes that we currently have to the best of our abilities,” commented Montague. “After examining the study prepared by Strategic Edge, we have identified that we must strive to enhance our efforts of providing our current student-athletes with adequate facilities and the opportunity to remain competitive across our conference.”