UTC men’s golf coach Mark Guhne spent Thursday night in a condominium without running water or electricity.
“It had a couch,” he said, describing his accommodations on a recruiting trip. “I’m staying with a friend tonight in Orlando and another friend in Miami tomorrow.”
The coach is doing everything he can to save money, even though exact budget cuts at UTC have not yet been specified. But if tuition at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga increases by 7 percent next year — which officials say is likely — the athletic department must cut nearly $600,000 from its budget, according to a University of Tennessee reduction plan draft.
Under that plan, UTC athletic director Rick Hart needs to shave $587,548 for the university to reach its required reduction of more than $8.4 million.
“We’ll strategically look at each of our resources,” Mr. Hart said, “and then we’ll look at making reductions without: one, impacting the student-athlete experience; secondly, preserving our human resources; and thirdly trying to maintain those things that are vital to our ability to generate revenues.”
Mr. Hart declined to discuss specific figures or potential targets for the cuts. The reductions will be made with consideration to policies of the university, and the Southern Conference and with state and federal laws, including Title IX, he said.
In addition to cutting, Mr. Hart has the opportunity to increase revenue through UTC athletics, which could help offset the crunch of the cuts.
“We have the ability to do that, and some of the things required to do that are already in place,” Mr. Hart said.
For instance, UTC has partnered with Learfield Communications and restructured its annual giving program and athletic fundraising, he noted.
The biggest room for revenue growth is in the football program, he said, which has had only four winning seasons in the last 20 years.
“Football will play a significant role in our ability to manage our budget,” Mr. Hart said. “I think the biggest opportunity for ticket sales is to have a successful football program.”
University of Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Huesman is expected to interview for the football program’s vacant head coaching position today, and a new coach could be named early next week.
UTC wide receiver Blue Cooper, of Rome, Ga., said he expects the announcement to inject the program with a bit of energy and excitement, whether the new coach is Mr. Huesman or one of the other two finalists, UT-Martin coach Jason Simpson and Lambuth University coach Hugh Freeze.
“I think we’ve got a good chance to bring in money with the changes we’ve got coming,” said Mr. Cooper, who will be a senior next season. “People will be excited about coming to the game and seeing the changes, and I think that will bring more fans out.
“We need some support in Chattanooga-Chattanooga, not Chattanooga-Knoxville.”
Coaches certainly will feel cuts no matter if they’re made to operations, recruiting, travel or scheduling.
In an effort to generate revenue, the football team played “big money” games at Oklahoma and Florida State that netted the program almost $1 million. UTC men’s basketball coach John Shulman scheduled three guarantee games this season — games in which the school is guaranteed a certain amount of money — with big-name universities. Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri will pay UTC a total of more than $100,000 to have the Mocs play on their home courts.
“We’ll help however we need to help, whether that’s playing one more guarantee game or two more guarantee games,” coach Shulman said. “If we need to do that to help another sport, we’ll do it.
“We’ll make do. We’ll survive,” he said. “That’s one thing athletics teaches you in the first place — to survive.”
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...