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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utah AD Hill: Utes doing better financially, but challenges remain

Looking at a report by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, it appears the Utes are doing Ok financially, with the Utes receiving $4,079,028 in distribution funds for the 2011-12 year. While that amount is far below Stanford and Oregon, which led the league with $15,651,602 and $15,200,450 in revenue, Utah's haul is much higher than it was getting in the MWC, where $1.2 million was considered a good amount.

Utah will receive a larger chunk in the coming years as it moves to full membership in 2014-15. The Utes will receive a 75 percent cut in 2013-14.

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Such fiscal reports might show progress for the Utes in revenue, but Utah athletic director Chris Hill maintains Utah is far from enjoying a huge cash flow.

If anything, Utah is more strapped than ever, thanks to more than $64.2 million that has been committed to facility renovation or new construction.

"For the first time ever we went into the hole last year and used up our reserve fund," Hill said of the roughly $2 million set aside in the fund. "We want to make sure we don't fall far behind so the hope is we can break even this year. We have to invest more in facilities and that is the biggest challenge we have, getting people to understand we do have more money coming in, but why we keep saying we need more. Sometimes that is a hard message to get across."

Hill has committed so much money and fund raising efforts to the new facilities because he felt it was the most crucial area to bring the Utes up to speed with the rest of the Pac-12. He said he can't expect his coaches to recruit against the best teams in the league with poor facilities.

So far the Utes have dedicated $32 million to the new football facility, $24 million to a basketball facility, $4.2 to the new softball complex and $2.5 million in track upgrades and $1.5 million for an outdoor tennis facility.

"We know it's going to take a while to be successful in the Pac-12 and we just came through one of our toughest times when we didn't get any money moving to the Pac-12, but there were certain things we had to do," he said. "We had to make some big investments, but by year 4, we are going to be on our way to being in the middle of the league or better by the standard of most facilities."

So yes, while the outlook definitely is improving for the Utes, Hill insists a lot of work remains.

"We are in year 3," he said of the Utes' presence in the Pac-12. "Every part of us is transitioning and we are going to do it right, but it's going to take a little time to do it."

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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