Northern Kentucky University’s potential move to Division I will not come without a cost.
The transition comes with a price tag of about $3.5 million. According to NKU Athletic Director Scott Eaton, the university has that amount prepared in order to “do it right.”
Of that $3.5 million, NKU estimated that $1.78 million would be from the general fund, which consists of tuition and state-funds.
Eaton said the funds would be raised over five years, beginning this year. The general fund is made up of tuition dollars and state funding.
He said the money will not be replaced, but is being shifted to Athletics. Eaton said the funds are earmarked for students but are now going to be earmarked for student athletes.
The university would take $646,000 from other university budgets, such as housing, dining services or already-existing scholarships, to be used for athletics.
New athletic department revenues are expected to reach $819,000 and would be brought in by tickets, sponsorships and donations.
“Built into that is a $300,000 dollar contingency that we have for unexpected increases,” Eaton said. “Such as, let’s say one of our coaches leaves and we have to go ahead and hire a new coach at a much higher salary or something like that.”
Eaton said that adds up to the $3.5 million needed to fund Division-I athletics.
“That is after year five,” Eaton said. “That doesn’t mean we are adding that much this year. It is going to be, gradually, over time.”
He said NKU’s expenses will be staggered and that it is a gradual phase-in.
Eaton said from this year on, NKU only has to add another $500,000 from the general fund.
“I think we will financially profit right away,” Eaton said. “The expectations are that we will be bringing in new athletic revenues, basically after we make the announcement.”
Eaton said not only are the marketing and department staff in the athletic department working hard but the university advancement and development people are working on it, as well.
“We’ll be launching a capital campaign that will help us raise some funds for this move, and it will be an institutional endeavor, so our expectations are going to be that we will show some new revenue sources coming in right away,” Eaton said.
He said additional revenues are going to come from private donors, corporate sponsorships, tickets and season-ticket sales.
Eaton said he does not have an argument against anyone who believes NKU is not ready to make the move or who feels like it cannot afford it, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
“I can tell you that we have worked very hard,” Eaton said. “We have pulled in a couple of different consulting agencies to help us to see if we are ready for this move and how we could afford to go ahead and fund it properly. … We met with all the faculty, all the staff, students and community leaders. We reached out to everyone in the campus community to go ahead and get their take on the move to Division-I, and there was a great deal of support for this move. The biggest reservation is that it would not come at the expense of some of the other key institutional priorities, which it is not. That has been the caveat.”
Eaton said he thinks NKU will just continue to move forward.
“We have worked out the strategic plan, and we are looking forward to implement it and make ourselves the best Division I program that we can be,” Eaton said.