WSU's hoops woes? Thi$ is illuminating

IF THE OLD phrase "you get what you pay for" is true, then Washington State's struggles in men's basketball shouldn't be surprising. The most recent statistics available from the Department of Education show that WSU spends the least of any team in the Pac-12 on its hoops program and $1.75 million less per year than the conference average.

That gulf between WSU and the rest of the league is perhaps even wider than it looks when you consider the extra travel costs WSU must absorb because, unlike every other school in the conference, it's not near a major airport.

According to the U.S. Department of Education's equity in athletics data for the latest year available, 2012-13, WSU's men's basketball expenses totaled $3.77 million.

That compares with a conference average of $6.1 million.

UCLA, at the top of the list, more than tripled the WSU outlay at $12.7 million (though one must presume about $2 million of that was consumed by Ben Howland's old contract).

In the Pacific Northwest, where no fired coaches affected budgets, Washington spent $3.14 million more than WSU, Oregon $2.2 million more and Oregon State $234,000 more.

Pac-12 Men's Basketball
expenses 2012-13

UCLA:             $12,717,020     (1)
Arizona:           $7,806,806     (4)
Washington:   $6,909,538     (6)
California:        $6,302,822     (2)
ASU:                 $6,264,174     (9)
Oregon:           $5,965,248     (3)
USC:                 $5,562,585     (7)
Colorado:        $4,884,321     (5)
Stanford:         $4,363,906     (8)
Utah:                 $4,155,280     (10)
OSU:                 $3,929,913     (12)
WSU:                $3,765,112     (11)

In parenthesis: Where each of those schools was seeded in the Pac-12 Tournament in 2012-13.

For all the news, information, opinion and recruiting insight available on and its network, click here to subscribe and start your 7-day free trial!
The numbers reflect operating expenses, such as coaching salaries, transportation, hotels, recruiting, scholarships and the like. Capital, or facilities, expenses are not included in the numbers.

Comparatively speaking, you'd have to say Washington State's victory over UCLA a couple of weeks back has to rank among the great bargains in sports. Of course, UCLA is also 28-8 this season and on its way to the Sweet 16.

Is it a coincidence that the two biggest spenders, Arizona and UCLA, are at or near the top of the league year after year while the two lowest spenders, WSU and OSU, are at or near the bottom?

Hard work, smart decisions and a little bit of luck can narrow the effect of the spending gap, but when resources differ this widely it's hard to envision being competitive on any kind of regular basis.

Right now, the chasm between what WSU athletics spends on scholarships each year and what it raises in donations for scholarships is $3.4 million. That's $3.4 million that Bill Moos must take out of his budget to cover the difference. No other athletic department in the Pac-12 faces that financial burden from scholarships not covered by annual donations. The single-biggest step Cougar fans can take to even the playing field is to donate to WSU's athletic scholarship fund.

If that spread between scholarship costs and annual donations were closed, Moos would overnight be able to elevate funding for basketball to a level closer to Oregon and Washington.

It's not that hard to imagine.

Consider this:

If the 6,364 people who already donate to the Cougar Athletic Fund increased their contributions by 16 percent, that would add up to an additional $1 million per year. And then if even a fraction of the tens of thousands of Cougar fans out there who don't already contribute were to join the CAF the numbers would take off. Another 7,000 members at an average annual donation of $199 each would add up to $1.4 million.

There are ways to build a successful basketball program on the Palouse. None of them are easy. Getting the right coach, and keeping him, is key. But to even begin that process, let alone see it through, requires one thing most of all.

You know what it is.

  • WSU's annual spending on men's hoops is more sobering when you compare it with a couple of Sweet 16-bound schools that feature old Cougs. Virginia's basketball expenses in 2012-13 were $6.6 million and San Diego State's were $5.6 million.

  • For an in-state student-athlete, the total cost of a scholarship (tuition, room and board, books and fees) is just under $27,000 -- about double what it was 10 years ago. To donate to the Cougar Athletic Fund, click here.

  • This is the first in a two-part series on CF.C. Next up, a look at football.

  • Cougfan Top Stories