Since taking over as Auburn University's athletic director in January 2018, Allen Greene has taken an unusual approach to budgeting: He wants to see sports expenses reduced 10 percent across the board.
Why? According to AuburnSports.com, inflation in the cost of running the department has begun to erode the budget surplus amassed under Greene's predecessor, Jay Jacobs, and now it's time for a reckoning.
Despite Auburn's annual revenues of nearly $150 million, Southeastern Conference allocations have flattened and after years of deferred capital improvements, Auburn now faces a more urgent need for a football-only facility — estimated to cost $70 million. A new sports medicine hub and upgrades to Auburn baseball's Plainsman Park are also on the to-do list. Moreover, success in certain sports has brought increased coaching salaries and travel expenses.
"We are reallocating our budgets and making priority investments to build on our future," Greene said in a statement to AuburnSports.com. "By becoming more efficient, it will allow for us to commit to the things that are most impactful to our department: the student-athlete experience, elite-level coaching staffs and current and future facility upgrades."
As AuburnSports.com's Jay G. Tate writes of Greene, "He doesn't see his 10-percent edict as a budget cut per se. This is more of a philosophical pivot, one that asks coaches to think more deeply about where their money goes. Do they need to be lodged at a high-rise hotel downtown or will a three-night stay at a suburban Courtyard have the same effect on the team's ability to win games?
"Do they need to eat at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse or would Outback be good enough?
"Do they need the university jet to fly to Knoxville or will a six-hour bus ride suffice?
"These are the kinds of questions Greene wants his coaches to ponder moving forward. If they need to spend a little extra to impress an important group of recruits during an official visit, well, the money is there. That extra expenditure may need to be offset by a more spendthrift decision down the road. That's the new paradigm."
Greene maintains that the new budgeting approach should not be viewed as a red flag regarding Auburn's athletic department finances.
"We are very fortunate that Auburn Athletics is on solid footing," he said last week. "As we position ourselves for the future, being more intentional about how we leverage our resources will be critical."