NCCU keeping its option open as it looks to cut down on athletics debt

North Carolina Central has become one of the biggest success stories in Division I athletics over the past couple of years. The program won MEAC titles in both basketball and football last season and enters next week’s MEAC Tournament as the favorite to repeat as conference champs.

But success has a price tag, and NCCU is trying to come up with a plan to figure out how to be as successful financially as it has been athletically. The school’s board of trustees has created a group to study the long-term sustainability and justification of its athletic program, according to the Durham Herald-Sun.

“We’re doing really good,” said BOT Chairman George Hamilton, an NCCU alumnus and former chemical-company executive who in 2007 gave the university $1 million to support its business school and athletics programs.

But he also noted that NCCU athletics, like “80 percent plus” of college sports programs across the country, operates at a financial deficit.

Campus leaders reckon the annual shortfall to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. Chancellor Debra Saunders-White is under orders to cut it to $1.5 million.”

Some alumni worry that a continued shortfall may lead to extensive cuts or perhaps even a move back to Division II. Hamilton says that isn’t the goal, but he says he’s not one to say “never” to anything.

“I come from the corporate world, and we’re always looking for ways to do things better,” he said.

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