In the red zone: WSU aims to pay off athletics debt

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Officials for Washington State University say the athletics budget will no longer be accruing annual deficits in five years, but it will take longer to pay off a budget hole estimated to grow to $85.1 million.

The school said Thursday that new Athletic Director Pat Chun and Chief Budget Officer Joan King will present the plan to the Board of Regents on Friday.

The athletics department will focus first on getting its budget balanced, then build up reserves and finally repay the accumulated deficit.

It relies on increasing revenue 27 percent while continuing to contain expenses. The debt is expected to reach $85.1 million by fiscal 2022. By 2023, the school says yearly athletic budgets would be balanced.

Much of the debt is connected to new facilities, while television revenues and donations were lower than expected.