Tarleton faces unique spending habits in wake of unprecedented budget cuts
MICAH D. MOORE | Texan News Service
Tarleton State University pays a Stephenville radio station $33,750
to broadcast its athletic events – almost twice the amount any other
public school in the Lone Star Conference pays to broadcast its sporting
events, records show.
Tarleton’s payment to KSTV-FM 93.1 comes as the university is trying
to cut $9.3 million from its budget by the end of August 2013, according
to a university spokesperson.
A Texan TV News investigation, based on contracts and documents
obtained under the Texas Public Information Act from Tarleton and other
schools across the state, found that the most any other state school in
the Lone Star Conference paid a radio station to broadcast athletic
events is $18,305, records show. That payment came from Texas A&M
One other school, Texas A&M University-Commerce, uses its
university-owned station KETR-FM 88.9 to broadcast its athletic events.
The only expenses that the university incurs are fees totaling about
$10,000 for sports announcers to do play-by-play and color commentating
for all sports throughout the year, according to records obtained under
the Texas Public Information Act.
One public institution in the Lone Star Conference doesn’t spend any
money to broadcast any of their athletic events. Angelo State University
Vice President of Communication and Marketing Preston Lewis said,
“There is no exchange of money between Angelo State University and
Foster Communication owns four radio stations including KKCL-FM 100.1
which broadcasts Angelo State University athletic events.
“They broadcast these games in return for the commercial revenues,
Texan TV News attempted to interview top administrators at Tarleton
about the KSTV contract. The office of Vice President for Institutional
Advancement Rick Richardson, who oversees media relations, declined a
request for an interview. The Division of Finance and Administration,
which oversees contract administration, referred questions to Athletic
Director Lonn Reisman.
Reisman initially agreed to an in-person interview with a Texan TV
News reporter, but cancelled that meeting and subsequently agreed to
only answer questions by email.
Reisman said that Tarleton Radio was not considered to broadcast
university athletic, as TAMU-Commerce uses its own station, events
because “at the time of the bid, KTRL’s broadcast range barely exceeded
the Stephenville city limits.”
In 2009, KTRL operated as a low power station at FM frequency 100.7.
That summer, Gary Moss, a Cleburne broadcaster, donated to the
university a much larger, non-commercial station that operated at the
The university gave the new, larger station KTRL’s call letters and
assigned new call letters, KURT, to the smaller, student-operated
frequency of 100.7 FM. Tarleton Radio General Manager Eric Truax over
sees both stations.
Truax said the university-owned KTRL-FM 90.5 has “the largest signal
coverage of any station based in Erath County and is certainly able to
broadcast Tarleton’s athletic events.” KTRL can now be heard as far as
Weatherford, Abilene and southwest Fort Worth.
“If the Athletic Department were to ask about broadcasting on KTRL,
we could definitely do it for less than they are paying now,” Truax
Tarleton has owned KTRL for more than a year. The station is now an
affiliate of National Public Radio.
In past meetings and correspondence with Truax and student staff,
Tarleton officials have questioned whether the staff of its radio
station was capable of broadcasting athletic events.
Beginning this fall, KTRL began broadcasting athletic events of the
nearby Glen Rose Independent School District – to the satisfaction of
the school district and KTRL.
“We’ve had great success broadcasting Glen Rose football. We put out a
consistent good quality signal each week and have a trained staff of
sports broadcasters,” said Truax.
Glen Rose Athletic Director Tommy Dunn has received positive feedback
from the community regarding the broadcast of their games. People are
now able to hear Glen Rose football games where they previously could
“I think KTRL has done a good job broadcasting Glen Rose Tigers
games,” Dunn said. “The staff at KTRL has been professional and I hope
this has been a positive experience for the students at [Tarleton].”
Glen Rose ISD allows Tarleton to broadcast the football games for
free and Tarleton charges the school district nothing for the service.
“It shouldn’t be about money. It’s about the love of the sport itself
and about giving students real-world sports broadcasting experience in a
professional environment,” said Truax.
While Tarleton pays tens of thousands of dollars to the
privately-owned KSTV, that same station is paying thousands of dollars
to the Stephenville Independent School District to broadcast athletic
events, records show.
KSTV pays Stephenville Independent School District $8,000 each year
for the exclusive broadcast rights to Stephenville High School athletic
KSTV’s contract with SISD provides that KSTV is the only media outlet
of any kind with permission to broadcast any of the games and pre- and
KSTV General Manager Robert “Boots” Elliot says he has a tight
relationship with Reisman but Tarleton retains control over its
broadcast rights. By comparison, Elliot said he has complete control of
every media outlet at Stephenville games.
Other universities sometimes receive generous amounts of advertising
as part of their contract agreement. Records show that TAMU-Kingsville
receives 30, 60-second commercials per week during the season.
Additionally, TAMU-Kingsville’s broadcaster retains six minutes of
the entire commercial inventory during each game.
Midwestern State University receives half of all the proceeds from
available commercial air time from the broadcast of its games.
In contrast, hand written notes in the contract between Tarleton and
KSTV states that the university gets two minutes of free advertising
during Tarleton Thursday programming.
Reisman said the contract between Tarleton and KSTV was approved and
recommended by Tarleton’s purchasing department.
Purchasing Director Beth Chandler confirmed that the athletic
department did not make any recommendations on the contract nor were
they consulted in the bidding process. Athletics submitted their
specific broadcast needs to the Purchasing Department, then purchasing
oversaw the process until a vendor was selected.
Tarleton is currently in the third year of a potential five year
contract with KSTV. Records show that the contract can be renewed
annually at the recommendation of the university and KSTV. If renewed,
Tarleton continues under the same contract with the same specifications.
The university, however, can opt to not renew the
contract. At that time, Tarleton would begin the search for another
station to broadcast the athletic events or continue with KSTV under a
Editors Note: Micah Moore is a producer for the Texan TV News and
a former station manager for Tarleton Radio’s student-run station,
In the Texan TV News investigation contracts and other documents
were obtained from all Texas public universities in the Lone Star
Conference as well as other entities. Those include Tarleton,
TAMU-Kingsville, TAMU-Commerce, Midwestern, West Texas A&M
University and Angelo and Stephenville ISD. Copies of all documents
acquired in the investigation, including Tarleton’s and SISD’s athletic
broadcast agreement with KSTV, financial statements, contracts from
other Lone Star Conference schools, are available below and also at Texan News Service.
Open Records Request Letter
Universities Open Records Request Letter
State University's Broadcast Agreement with KSTV
Regarding Tarleton's Broadcast Agreement
ISD's Broadcast Agreement with KSTV
A&M University Kingsville's Broadcast Agreement and Supporting
A&M University - Commerce's Announcer's Contracts and Payments
State University's Broadcast Agreement
State University's Broadcast Agreement