Is financial climate costing Cardinal? 10:52 AM ET Stanford Cardinal Top Email ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported last summer that despite its success, the Stanford athletic department was being asked to cut $3.1 million from the 2010 budget and $4.5 million from the 2011 budget. That's a direct result of a drop in the value of the school's athletic endowment. Could this have played a role in the recent exodus of assistant coaches? When your program suddenly becomes hot, other schools always want a taste, and it's commonplace for new head coaches to bring staff from their former employers (as Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart has done). But as we saw with Georgia's courtship of Bud Foster and John Chavis, if your boss wants you bad enough, he will come up with the money to keep you. That may not be possible at Stanford. The school has other unique expenses -- e.g., the Coaches' Housing Fund that buys houses, has built houses and offers loans or bonuses to assist in the purchase of houses, to offset the high cost of real estate in the Bay Area -- that may make it impossible to retain coaches for the long haul. This is especially relevant now that NFL teams are free to come calling on coach Jim Harbaugh (NFL Rumor Central), who signed an extension last month but is rumored to have his eye on a jump to the NFL. Stanford is not in a position to offer a $3 million or $4 million salary that might reduce the temptation of an NFL job, which means that replacing assistants may be the least of the program's concerns in the near future.