The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Athletic Department hired 1986 alum Richard Franchak as its first Associate Athletic Director for Business and Finance in early May. Franchak will be responsible for the financial oversight and management of the Athletic Department’s budget, reporting the state of athletic finances to the department, and other tasks related to athletic funds.
Franchak’s hiring comes after news of a significant reduction in universities’ funding from the National Collegiate Athletic Association due to the cancellation of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Many universities already took steps to decrease budget demands. The University of Akron announced on May 14 the cutting of the men’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s tennis teams and that East Carolina University cut four teams, including men and women’s swim and dive, to balance their athletic budgets.
“Resources are going to be challenged,” Franchak said.
In addition to less money from the NCAA, UMBC and Franchak will face smaller funds from the state due to the pandemic’s impact on Maryland’s tax revenues. Maryland is estimated to lose around 2.8 billion dollars, or fifteen percent, of Maryland’s annual general fund in the 2020 fiscal year because of the pandemic. Further, University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman warned that USM will have a shortfall of up to 240 million dollars this semester.
Despite the uncertain state of the Athletic Department’s finances for the 2020-2021 school year, Franchak is positive the department and the university will pull through.
“One thing I’m confident of is that UMBC is going to be in a better place once this is done,” Franchak said.
Franchak’s confidence comes from both trust in the university and his own professional experience. Since graduating from UMBC, Franchak has gained over 30 years of experience in collegiate athletics. His first job in athletics was as a student assistant coach to UMBC’s men’s basketball then Division II team in 1986.
“It really solidified my desire to want to work in athletics,” Franchak said.
Franchak credits his work as a student assistant coach as the reason why he was hired as the Assistant Business Manager for the Naval Academy, his first professional position in athletics, a few years after he graduated.
After the Naval Academy, Franchak worked at the University of Akron as the Assistant Director of Athletics for Business. He then worked at the University of Wisconsin as the Associate Director of the Badger Fund and Assistant Athletic Director for Business, at Xavier University as Deputy Athletic Director and Senior Athletic Director at Ohio University.
“I intentionally branched into other areas. I always sought to be the best athletics financial person I could be,” Franchak said. “In order to do that, I had really hands-on experience in other areas that would help me in to become that.”
With financial experience ranging from fundraising to budgeting, Franchak believes his background will help guide him and the Athletic Department through the pandemic.
UMBC Athletic Director Brian Barrio values Franchak’s breadth of experience and believes it will be invaluable as UMBC Athletics’ determines its course of action amidst the pandemic.
“Rich brings a track record of integrity and resourcefulness to a position that will be vitally important to Retriever Athletics as we navigate a complex fiscal environment impacted by current world circumstances,” Barrio said in an email press release. “In these times, more than ever we value the judgment and acumen that Rich will add to our senior team.”
While Franchak admits he has never navigated an athletic department through a pandemic before, he believes that adaptability, creativity and discipline will be some of the things that help UMBC Athletics pull through the difficult financial situation.
“This is an extraordinary institution,” Franchak said. “With our leadership, Dr. Hrabowski and the senior team, I have no doubt that the university will come through this in a good position or a better position for the long run.”