BSU athletics assessing financial impact of pandemic

Bemidji State Beavers

BEMIDJI -- The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted the function of practically every organization in sports, Bemidji State athletics included.

For the BSU athletic department, restrictions regarding large gatherings not only limit the Beavers’ opportunity to compete on the field, but also its ability to conduct fundraisers.

The program’s biennial Green and White Dinner and Auction had originally been scheduled for today, but has now been postponed until next year. Held every two years, the most recent event in 2018 was attended by more than 400 people and raised $113,000 for athletic scholarships and team support. The event has generated more than $300,000 since its creation in 2014.

“(The dinners) have been very successful,” Director of Athletics Tracy Dill said. “We’ve actually increased the number of people that have attended.”

Though the 2020 event has been pushed back a year, Dill said the athletic department will be no worse for wear financially.


“The way our fiscal year works, if we have a successful (event) in ‘21, we shouldn’t see a hit,” Dill said, “because the money that we would have raised (this year)… we would have used that money for the following two years. … Instead of collecting the money ahead of the game, we’re going to be able to do it in April of ‘21.”

The Gordy Skaar and Galen Nagle memorial golf tournaments, two major annual fundraisers for Bemidji State athletics set for this summer, are still scheduled to go ahead as usual, though that could change based on social distancing guidelines. BSU has booked dates in August as a contingency plan in case they need to be rescheduled.

“They’re really crucial,” Dill said of such fundraisers. “And it’s crucial, number one, to keep people actively involved with your programs. They’re as much a fundraiser as they are a friend-raiser, too. … Hopefully we’ll be able to get them in.”

As far as the financial impact of the pandemic as a whole on the athletic department, Dill said the school is still in the initial stages of gauging how it will affect the program.

“A lot of it is still up in the air,” he said. “We certainly are talking about it. Nothing concrete’s been put in place yet. We certainly know that there could be changes, but to what degree, we don’t know yet. We’re still gathering information on that.”

The athletic department’s total annual budget is around $7 million, Dill said, while adding it’s still too early to tell how much that could be impacted by a prolonged shutdown of sports.

“You certainly have to think that you’re going to have to make some adjustments,” he said, “but honestly we’re only talking about it right now and nothing’s been concrete.”

While the Beaver men’s hockey team and the school’s spring sports programs may have had their seasons cut short, as of now, Bemidji State is planning for fall sports to take place like normal. Ultimately, the fate of fall sports rests more in the hands of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the NCAA and the conferences BSU belongs to, Dill said.


“It’s a little complicated, but again, it’s just the way we have to do it,” Dill said. “We have to be flexible. And that’s one thing athletics does teach you, is you’ve got to be flexible and understand when a challenge is thrown your way, how are we going to work together to fix it.

“That’s been our goal right now, and our goal since this has all happened, is to make sure we provide safety and everything to not only our faculty and staff, but our students, which are the most important.”

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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