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Washington Lawmakers Have Sights Set On Collegiate Athletic Budgets

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Athletic departments like the one at Washington State University were cited by Washington lawmakers who want to rein in spending.

Some lawmakers in Olympia want public university athletic departments to face closer scrutiny when they overspend. A bill was introduced Thursday that would make universities accountable to the legislature for deficits in those budgets.

Sen. Andy Billig of Spokane co-sponsored the bill. He said he just wants what’s best for the universities across the state.

“I want the athletic department to be successful, I want the rest of the university and every student there to be successful,” Billig said. “Where the revenues that are generated from the athletics are invested back into the athletic department, and the revenues that are generated from the rest of the university are used for the rest of the university.”

The bill would require departments in the red for more than three years to gain budget approval from a legislative committee. It comes after Washington State University released plans to balance the books late last year. That plan included a possible new fee for students and increased ticket prices for games.

A WSU spokesperson said a student fee is not yet finalized. Spokespersons for Washington State University and the University of Washington each say no tuition money goes toward athletic deficits.