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University of Arizona athletics is on track to lose roughly $65 million in 2 years

The state Board of Regents meeting on Thursday revealed that the athletics department at the University of Arizona is on track to lose approximately $65 million over two years.

A Smith College economics professor has found that athletic expenses are higher than revenues at the overwhelming majority of Division I schools.

The board heard that the UA athletic department is operating at a roughly $30 million loss this year. Last year, the department lost about $35 million. Acting CFO John Arnold said a broad community discussion lies ahead. 

“What do we want out of the University of Arizona’s athletics? What do we want out of that experience? What products do we want to provide?”

Arnold is also executive director of the Board. He told the Regents that efforts to slow spending at UA buy time so the scope and nature of the problem facing the school, which lost $140 million last fiscal year, can be properly diagnosed.

Athletics have contributed heavily to UA’s deficit. And as the landscape of college sports rapidly changes, the school must decide which sports to sponsor.

“And then be realistic about what are the costs to provide those products. We’re going to make that as cost-effective as possible. We’re going to talk about revenue generation,” Arnold said.

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist wrote for EconoFact last year that college sports in the U.S. are in a period of overarching transition and deep financial crisis.

A key catalyst is that athletes can now earn a share of the profits.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to an editing error, the amount of money the university lost in the last fiscal year was overstated. The story has been updated to correct that figure

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.