It is concerning that expenses for athletic programs at the University of Kansas are increasing at a pace that is significantly faster than revenues.

The finances may explain why KU hasn’t walked away from a $191 million contract with Adidas, despite the fact that an FBI indictment alleges that an Adidas executive “victimized” KU by paying the families of two top basketball players more than $100,000 total to get those players to commit to Kansas. …

According to an annual audit, KU Athletics lost $1.4 million in 2017. …

In fiscal year 2006, Kansas Athletics received $7.1 million in revenue from the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA, according to its annual audit. In fiscal year 2017, conference and NCAA revenue had grown to $32.3 million. Despite all the new money, donors had to kick in $19 million to cover operating expenses in 2017.

And then there is the debt. In 2006, KU had 17 cents in debt and long-term leases for every $1 in assets it owned. In 2017, that number had grown to 52 cents in debt/leases for every $1 worth of assets. And now the university wants to raise $350 million for facility improvements, most notably the thorough renovation of Memorial Stadium.

KU leaders dismiss the financial audits as painting a picture that is not entirely accurate. …

But a few things are clear. First, football is incredibly important to the financial health of college athletic departments. If football isn’t pulling its weight, it’s hard to balance the bottom line. And KU’s moribund football program isn’t pulling its weight. …

Second, KU has to evaluate its spending on athletic administration. Any other organization facing similar fiscal challenges would consider restructuring personnel to ensure profitability.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is clear from the increasing reliance on donors to fund operations that KU has maximized what it can generate from fans without improving performance, especially in football.

KU Athletics’ expenses are increasing, and its debt may soon increase. Football attendance and ticket sales are declining. How much longer are the big money donors KU Athletics is counting on going to keep putting money into an increasingly bad investment?

— The Lawrence Journal-World