Final report executive summary
On October 19, 2010, following 16 months on campus, former Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee presented the findings of the audit of Missouri State University. That report included items related to JQH Arena and raised several questions regarding the facility.
In response to that audit, Missouri State University President James E. Cofer, Sr. appointed an 11-member Task Force to review JQH Arena and address the issues raised by the state auditor. Dr. Cofer asked for the task force report by April 1, 2011.
The task force was chaired by Brent Dunn, vice president for university advancement, and included three faculty members, two students, one community member and four administrators. The task force’s first meeting was November 16, 2010, and there were six additional meetings through March 2011.
The task force report was unanimously approved by the 11 members.
Summary of key findings
This report addresses the issues raised by the Auditor and responds to the specific charges presented to the Task Force by President Cofer. Here are the five key findings of the Task Force:
- JQH Arena is a valuable asset for Missouri State University. While the facility provides one of the finest venues in the country for the intercollegiate athletics program, it also provides a premier venue for the University to hold convocations, commencement ceremonies, entertainment and cultural events, and other special events. It is a showpiece and “front porch” for the University and the region that will be used for 50 years or more. In a recent review of arenas around the U.S. by the Stadium Journey website, an independent reviewer, Bill Kintner, posted his impressions of JQH Arena: “JQH Arena is one of the best arenas built in the last 30 years. It makes my top 10 college basketball arenas in the country.”
- The administrators and Board of Governors involved in the decision to accept the $30 million gift from Mr. Hammons and build JQH Arena acted in good faith, completed the proper due diligence, and developed the best financial plan possible. The decision to proceed with JQH Arena was a good one, especially since the $67 million arena was essentially built for half-price, thanks to Mr. Hammons’ gift. If the opportunity presented itself today, the Task Force would make the same decision as was made in 2006.
- The year the arena opened was the largest year in Bears Fund gifts received. Nearly $3 million was contributed; however, the year before JQH Arena opened, $2 million was raised which went to athletics. The opening of JQH Arena added an additional $2 million in debt service. Each year since then, Bears Fund gifts have declined along with season ticket sales. These declines are the main reason there is a shortfall of $2 million. While the bond payments are being paid as scheduled with gifts and seat assessments, extra gifts to athletics are declining which affects the athletics budget.
- The budgets for intercollegiate athletics and JQH Arena are inextricably intertwined. It is impossible to deal with one without dealing with both. The same is true for the budgets of the various athletics facilities, especially when it comes to the limited number of staff members who service all athletics facilities.
- Given the three years of experience with JQH Arena and the new economic realities, the University must recalibrate its plan and implement multiple initiatives in order to ensure the long-term vitality of JQH Arena. These initiatives should deal with both enhancing revenues and reducing expenditures.