SIU athletic department surviving economic downturn

By Gus Bode

SIU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said the athletics department is not seeing the kind of wide-scale struggles other universities have seen in what has been a rough economical time.

While the country continues to struggle as it fights out of a recession, Moccia said the department has taken precautionary measures to offset the hard times.

‘We’re very cognizant of the economic situation of the country and certainly in the state, and I would like to think it’s through strategy and planning,’ Moccia said. ‘But we haven’t seen some of the hardships that many of the other people around the country (have seen).’


Most of the economic plans for Saluki athletics are laid out before the year, Moccia said, with a focus on travel costs and the cost of goods in preparation of a potentially poor economy.

Stanford, of the Pacific 10 Conference, and Ohio State, of the Big Ten, have reported losses in their respective athletics departments. Moccia said he was shocked to hear about Stanford’s struggles because of its standing and the money the school had made in the past. He said the team’s recent struggles in football and men’s basketball might be the reason for the recent recession met by the Pac-10 powerhouse.

While there has been an increase in season ticket sales for football and men’s basketball, the biggest increase in contributions has come in the form of scholarship money.

Moccia said booster contributions to the scholarship fund are still an easy selling point in a rocky economic climate.

‘It’s not like you’re selling encyclopedias. That’s a tough job. Here, we’re selling a kid’s education,’ he said. ‘So when we offer scholarships to a women’s tennis player, a men’s track and field (athlete) or men’s basketball player, that’s … a really worthy cause.’

Moccia said the department has been able to cut into the deficit he inherited when he was hired at SIU.

Moccia said his predecessor, Paul Kowalczyk, who now serves the same role at Colorado State, inherited an $800,000 debt when he was hired and was able to cut into it in his time at SIU. The current director of athletics said he believes the department could soon erase its debt to campus because of its commitment to managing money.


‘We’re on the cusp of erasing that deficit completely,’ Moccia said. ‘I give (Kowalczyk) all the credit in the world along with (Chief Financial Officer) Mark Scally, because they really put a plan into action of reducing that deficit.’