Prepaid Expense Cards: Financial Solutions for University Athletic Departments.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS | DENTON, TEXAS
In fall 2019, the athletic department at the University of North Texas was managing thousands of dollars in cash and a staggering number of checks for its 450 student-athletes and staff involved in the university’s 12 sports programs. It didn’t take a math major to figure out this added up to a lot of administrative time for all involved.
An example of this occurred during winter breaks, when many student-athletes were required to stay on campus. The university needed a solution to provide them with finances to cover per diems while dining halls were closed.
“We used to spend nearly three full weeks processing our cash advance requests to fulfill our student-athletes’ needs during the winter break,” said Matt Witty, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer for University of North Texas Athletics. “Now we spend about an hour a day for a couple of weeks in preparation.”
How did they create this efficiency? By transitioning every student-athlete and athletic department employee to a CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Card, which provided a solution to the winter break challenge, as well as many others.
Solutions for Athletic Department Business Offices
With many coaches and student-athletes traveling to competitions comes hundreds of travel expenses and per diems to manage. For a state university, this required multiple steps in advance of, and after, the event. In a matter of minutes, administrators now just load each prepaid Visa® card with the appropriate amount. The university can block certain merchants, such as bars, liquor stores or casinos, as well as turn on/off ATM access. Upon return from a trip, reconciliation is simplified with an easy-to-generate report and one monthly statement.
Solutions for Student-Athletes
In addition to having easy access to per diems over winter break, there are several other advantages to student-athletes using CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards. They are a safer way to make purchases. If a card is lost or stolen, the athletic department’s business office can instantly issue a new card.1
“Student-athletes are used to using bank cards and prefer them to cash since it gives them more flexibility in their spending and money management,” said Witty. “Our business office can easily track all purchases by person, date, amount and location from card statements.”
Solutions for Coaches and Administrators
Prior to switching to CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards, coaches and administrators were responsible for handling thousands of dollars in cash for student-athletes during game travels.
In fact, the director of football operations had to access more than $10,000 in cash for travel expenses and per diems prior to the university’s participation in two recent bowl games. The director was especially concerned about carrying around such a large sum of cash, and spent several hours preparing individual student-athlete packets of cash.
Not only is cash handling risky for coaches and administrators, it can open the doors to compliance issues.
If a student-athlete accidentally received too much cash, it was a violation of established rules. With the CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards, the University of North Texas can accurately manage the amounts given to each student-athlete and recoup any overpayments.
“The easy distribution and reconciliation process gives us peace of mind and provides less room for error,” said Witty.
CommercePayments® has worked with universities of all sizes.1. There is a one-time set up fee for the instant issue option, and a fee for each replacement card issued.
- Load and unload funds to multiple cards
- Issue or replace cards
- Set authorized merchant categories and card limits for different types of users
- Limit cash access
- Monitor and review transactions online
Establish automatic and scheduled reloads
“Some state school administrations and governments are reluctant to change how student-athletes’ finances are managed. Once they understand that CommercePayments® Prepaid Expense Cards streamline efficiencies, enhance accounting and reduce risks, they are more open to considering such changes.”
Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer, University of North Texas Athletics