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Audit shows USM's athletic department's debt nearly doubled in one year

HATTIESBURG — The University of Southern Mississippi athletic department’s debt nearly doubled between the start of the 2010-11 fiscal year and fall 2011.

An audit acquired through a public records request shows that the department owed $439,255 in fall 2010 and $790,398 last fall, The Hattiesburg American reports.

Football was the only sport that did not lose money in the 2010-11 school year, netting a $13,852 profit, it said. Basketball lost the most money: $484,300 for men’s basketball and $726,800 for women’s, it said.

Women’s basketball brought in $42,178 but spent $769,041, while men’s had nearly $1.5 million in expenses and just over $1 million in revenue.

“Administrative affairs and the athletic department are working closely to fully evaluate and quickly improve the economic outlook for Southern Miss athletics,” said Chad Driskell, interim vice president for administrative affairs.

Jeff Hammond has said that after becoming interim athletics director on Jan. 1, he learned that the department faces $1 million in debt that will take years to pay.

The newspaper said he did not respond to a request last week to review the audit, which details numbers through March.

When he revealed the deficit, he said he is taking steps to improve department finances, such as requiring coaches to operate within budget, getting approval for spending, and making more lucrative football and basketball contracts.

Hammond replaced longtime athletic director Richard Giannini, who retired. Last month, Giannini dismissed allegations of mismanagement, noting that his 13 years as athletic director included Conference USA championships and facility upgrades.

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