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Indian River State College records reveal financial red flags prior to eliminating women's basketball team

Team accrued more than $97,000 in operating expenses last fiscal year, school survey says
Posted at 6:48 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 22:07:46-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — In the two weeks since Indian River State College announced it was eliminating its women’s basketball team, WPTV has learned through public records requests more about the circumstances leading to the decision.

When the team was initially informed of the decision on March 18, they told WPTV they were blindsided by the news. A school spokeswoman said it was a cost-cutting move that came at a critical junction in which all athletic programs were under scrutiny.

The women's basketball team was cut as the women's volleyball team was moved down a division, allowing the school to pay out less in scholarships. The e-sports team was eliminated months earlier.

Operating Game Day expenses women's basketball team IRSC 04022024.png
Operating Game Day expenses women's basketball team is $97,000.

The newly-obtained records from IRSC show that the women's basketball team was among the costliest of all the athletic programs — with operating costs only outpaced by the women's softball team. According to the school's annual Equity in Athletics Disclosure survey, the women's basketball team accrued more than $97,000 in operating expenses during the fiscal year ending in 2023 — more than 20% higher than the men's basketball team.

Spending on sports was also outpacing the money coming in to fund it. IRSC's Annual Report of Student Activity and Service Fees, which pays for student athletics, reported a loss of more than $62,000 at the end of fiscal 2023.

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This was the first loss that appeared in the five years student activity fee reports provided by the school.

According to the most recently available fiscal audit, published in March 2023, the school's unrestricted net position — meaning money that wasn't tied up in assets or other financial commitments — was more than $30 million in the red at the end of the 2022 fiscal year and a $7 million improvement from the year before.

WPTV also reviewed emails among school administrators.

email from Indian River State College athletic director Scott Kimmelman.png
Email from Athletic Director Scott Kimmelman about recommendations for the women's basketball team.

In an email from athletic director Scott Kimmelman dated Feb. 6, more than a month before players and coaches were told the team was folding, the subject line read: "Women's Basketball Discussion (CONFIDENTIAL)."

"I met with Chief Financial Officer Marvin Pyles to discuss my recommendations moving forward with the Women's Basketball staff in the coming weeks," Kimmelman wrote.

Kimmelman was not immediately available for comment.

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