Paying without playing

Like every person in his position, Minnesota State Mankato athletic director Kevin Buisman is trying to decipher how to cover the added expense of COVID-19 testing within the context of revenue shortfalls from sports being postponed until 2021.

Buisman instituted cost-saving measures throughout his department. He asked coaches to prioritize equipment, supplies and uniforms as either essential or capable of being delayed. The department saved $150,000 through that exercise alone. They also saved some money on travel.

MSU Mankato’s $14.3 million budget includes $1.2 million from student fees, which serves as prepaid admission to games. With no games being played and admission likely limited when they do resume, it’s unclear if students will receive some credit.

Ticket sales from men’s hockey accounts for a large chunk of revenue. The Mavericks normally average around 4,000 fans for home games. The school is hopeful that state guidelines will allow attendance of 1,000 to start the season. The potential of 3,000 fewer fans — plus a condensed schedule that features fewer home games than normal — will add up to a substantial revenue loss.

“The financial strain is going to come to bear across the institution and across the athletic department,” Buisman said. “We’re going to have some difficult choices to make.”