David White

David White: Fresno State needs to live within its athletic means

Fresno State, you’re not making any cents.

You want to have the best and brightest Toy Department in the Land, but your athletic department spending is outrunning our fundraising arms.

Scholarship costs are up, and your income can’t keep up.

This isn’t being bold. This is going broke, with belly-up waving its ugly stick on the on-deck circle.

That’s our take on the recent work of Robert Kuwada, who reports that the Fresno State pay-to-play fund is “reaching a critical point.” The Bulldog Foundation, which the university entrusts to pick your every benevolent pocket, has seen its net slush fund drop from $17.8 million to $13.9 million over three years, and 2018 isn’t adding up any better.

So what’s this fine establishment to do when it’s taking on more water than it can properly bail?

Be who you are, and live in your lane. No more budgeting to who you want to be. Time to be what your W-2 form allows.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it’s a challenge,” newish athletic director Terry Tumey told Kuwada, without asking for spare change.

Good. We don’t need more sugar, because sugar goes straight to our thighs when what we need to do is lose some serious pinch in the handles.

Did you hear that, President Joseph Castro?

More has left with you with less than ever before. The company accountants cannot make your gold-card spending add up.

Three years is a long time to hope the incomings can catch up with the outgoings. We learned that in Econ 101 on your campus back in the day, before we gave up our noble pursuit of a tassel.

The athletic department had a $9.6 million budget when you parachuted into this red morass of financial neglect during the 2013-14 campaign. The current calendar is costing you $19.1 million.

Don’t tell me that’s because you added wrestling and women’s water polo. They’re not costing you $10 million a year. For the love of Dennis Deliddo, wrestling coach Troy Steiner has been wearing the same socks since the day he got here.

No, you’re just not living in your means, and since you are a public stock, that means you’re blowing through our money.

When enough donors won’t give to cover your tab, something has to give.

Cost of attendance will never go down. The price of 21 programs will only go up.

If the plan remains to spend your way out of a bottomless hole, you deserve all the financial Ebola that brings you. If the fallback plan is to reach for the wished-upon stars, then you’re going to be up to your belly button with debt and won’t be able to afford the boots for it.

Raise more money? Absolutely. Someone over there gets paid to separate people from their IRAs, so have at it.

It’s just that you can’t count on money that doesn’t belong to you. That falls in the category of Things You Can’t Control, which is a lousy way to stay solvent and a sure way to get your state-issued car repossessed during the night.

President Castro, you need to start controlling the things you can control. Your athletic budget has got to come down, and it needs to bring down the accounts-payable with it.

Going all “non-starter” on the painful options gets more non-sustainable each passing year. You’ve got to make the sort of hard decisions that can only be made in glass offices on top floors.

After all, that’s why you get paid the big bucks.

Three-point stance

1. So, the Los Angeles Lakers want to be a championship contender again? Next time, when you want to trade for Anthony Davis, don’t offer them a bunch of role players and draft picks. Give them LeBron James, because he’s proven to be a lousy coach and lousier general manager.

2. Fresno State wrestling, Top 25 in Year 2 as a thing. Fresno State president Joseph Castro, feel rewarded.

3. The Patriots just won’t go away. Good for them, but bad for football because, if viewership ratings mean anything, fans are much more willing to go away. They are doing to the NFL what the New York Yankees did to the World Series in the 2000s. We’ve just got better things to do than watch Tom Brady smirk.