Between July 2018 and July 2019, Occidental spent over $3.7 million on the athletics program and received almost $4.2 million in revenue, according to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) report. The EADA report is used to evaluate gender equity in intercollegiate athletics, according to assistant athletic director and head women’s basketball coach Anahit Aladzhanyan. Shanda Ness, director of athletics, said via email that part of the net profit gained each year is reincorporated into the budget and another part is used to enhance the student-athlete experience, such as upgrading the athletic facilities.
Coaches’ salaries total $1.3 million and make up more than one-third of overall expenses. Another third are classified as “not allocated expenses,” which include salaries for support staff, medical supply costs, insurance and fitness center cardio equipment, according to Aladzhanyan. Revenue includes the $2.9 million the athletic teams received from the administration, profit from athletic meetings hosted by the college and donations from alumni and friends of the college, according to Aladzhanyan.
According to head football coach Rob Cushman, coaches cannot decide how much of the budget will be allocated to their team. Instead, the college and athletic department administration have the power to decide budgets.
“We receive a number, then we gotta make it work for the items we need. Whether if it’s equipment, travel, salaries, a variety of things,” Cushman said.
Ness said via email that, when deciding budgets, both unique and common needs of the teams are considered. Common needs include expenses from officiating, transportation and uniforms. According to Ness, there is collaboration with the coaches in the budget decision-making process.
Cushman said instead of allocating a lump sum budget to teams, the administration decides how much money will be given for specific lines of expenses in the team. For example, a specific amount of money would be allocated for the football team’s travel needs, and another bulk for the football coaches’ salaries. This is Cushman’s third season at Occidental, and he said he was initially unsure about how the budget works and has made recommendations at times.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve tried to say, ‘This line of item might be a little low,’ because I’m the one who understands the game and what we need,” Cushman said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten more money. I don’t know the [budget] cycle well enough.”
Cushman said teams can always use more money and pointed to the example of alumni’s fundraising support for the football program back in the 2017–18 season when it looked like it was not going to survive.
“The alumni came to support it with a four-year initiative to raise about a million dollars, so about $285,000 per year,” Cushman said. “[The money] has then augmented our travel, our equipment, helped hire trainers, helped hire coaches—it’s really helpful.”
In Occidental’s 2018–19 EADA datasets, certain sports have greater expenses than others, even if they have fewer players. For example, the men’s track and field and cross country teams combined have 78 athletes and need $57,024 in game-day expenses, which includes fees for uniforms, equipment, transportation and accommodation. The football team, on the other hand, has 46 athletes but is allocated almost $100,000 in expenses. Higher football equipment costs is one of the reasons for the different expenses.
According to Cushman, equipment and travel fees for football make up the largest bulk of expenses. For example, a shoulder pad can cost $150 and a helmet over $300, according to Cushman. Additional training equipment such as tackle dummies and sleds can add thousands more to the cost. Aladzhanyan said there are also different entry fees for sports, such as paying to play at a golf course compared to tennis courts. Officiating fees also differ by sport and can range from less than $100 to more than $200 for each referee per game.
Coaches’ average salaries for men’s and women’s teams is another area where there are differences. In 2018–19, the average salary per head coach for men’s teams is almost $5,000 more than that for women’s teams. This gendered difference also holds true for assistant coaches across different years and institutions. For example, in 2017–18, the gaps were $3,715 for head coaches and $4,988 for assistant coaches. In 2016–17, the gaps were $11,205 for head coaches and $3,332 for assistants.
The gap also exists in other Division III colleges in Southern California that Occidental frequently competes with. Whittier College, during 2017–18, had a gap of $4,909 for head coaches and $4,122 for assistant coaches. During the same period, Pomona College had a gap of $6,522 for head coaches and $2,098 for assistant coaches. Ness said via email that coaches’ salaries for men’s teams are not consistently higher, and it is just the averages that may appear to be different.
According to Aladzhanyan, the budget for the 2020 school year is currently being finalized, and the athletics department is not anticipating any major shifts from 2019.