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Wolf Pack, Rebel athletic departments to get seven-figure state money cuts

K.J. Hymes
K.J. Hymes looks to pass against Nick Blair during a UNLV-Nevada game last season. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It's not the worst-case scenario, but the Nevada and UNLV athletic departments are scheduled to receive major cuts in state-appropriated funds in 2020-21.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature has enacted severe cuts to Nevada's System of Higher Education, and those cuts have tricked down to college athletics.

Nevada athletics was scheduled to get $5,481,111 in state funds in 2020-21 but will now get $4,403,731, a decrease of $1,077,380. UNLV athletics was scheduled to get $7,902,866 in state funds in 2020-21 but will now get $6,349,458, a decrease of $1,553,408. The Rebels have consistently received more state money than the Wolf Pack, the rationale being UNLV's athletic facilities have more surface area, requiring more maintenance.

The proposed cuts require a stamp of approval from the Nevada Board of Regents, which has scheduled for a special meeting Aug. 7. The reductions are expected to pass.

Overall, UNR's state funds would be cut from an anticipated $104,838,780 to $79,079,562 due to COVID-19's financial impact. UNLV's state funds would fall from $145,306,109 to $109,603,946. The community colleges also would be hit hard with Truckee Meadows Community College's funding falling from $28,835,736 to $21,358,441. The proposed cuts are outlined here.

State funds are one of the top revenue sources for Nevada athletics, which got $5,475,113 in state-appropriated money last year. In fiscal year 2019, the most recent available data, direct state support was the second-largest revenue source for Nevada, making up 12.5 percent of its overall budget. The only larger revenue driver was ticket sales, which generated $9,683,291, although that number was heavily inflated after the Board of Regents made the Wolf Pack change how it calculates its revenues last year and approved a one-time mandated $6,178,185 deferral of football and men's basketball renewals from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2019 so the school reported its numbers uniformly with UNLV.

Typically, direct state support is the No. 1 revenue source for the Wolf Pack. While the decrease of more than $1 million will certainly impact the department, the possibility of a complete loss of state money had been feared as a worst-case scenario, which has now been avoided for this upcoming season. Additionally, each university has the flexibility to use funds to make up for the decrease in state appropriations to its respective athletic departments.

In other financial news, the SEC is reportedly poised to truncate its football season to only conference games, which could cost Nevada a big pay. The Wolf Pack is scheduled to play at SEC school Arkansas in September and receive a $1.5 million pay day. Nevada could argue for breach of contract if the game is not played. The contract states either side would owe the opponent $1.5 million if the game isn't played. The contract says the game can legally be breached for "an act of God, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, war, invasion, hostilities, terrorism, civil unrest, rebellion, insurrection, court order, confiscation by order of the government, military or public authority or prohibitory or government authorities."


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