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Thursday, November 05, 2009

College Athletic Costs: Louisville

The University if California at Berkeley, like many other universities, is facing a severe budget crisis. With a $150 million shortfall, the school has cut faculty salaries, closed the Library on Saturdays, and reduced course offerings.

Some members of the University's progressive faculty want to take another tough step -- cut spending on Athletics:
"With dozens and dozens of cuts to its academic programs, is it not obvious that UC Berkeley must cease putting millions into a program which isn't part of the core academic mission and is supposed to be self-supporting? It's just a matter of priorities," said Brian Barsky, a computer science professor who has been leading the "Academics First" camp.

He's among eight professors who will present a resolution tonight urging Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to stop campus subsidies immediately, or as soon as contractually possible.
Cal is currently slated to transfer nearly $14 million total to Athletics over the next two years.

That got me thinking about budget shortfalls at University of Louisville -- and potential cash transfers from the school to sports. The most recent Athletic Association Financial Statement is from 2008:
The University, during its annual budgetary process, agrees to transfer funds to the Association to assist with expense related to retention and gender issues. The University transferred $2.1 million and $1.8 million for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2008 and 2007. Additionally, the University collects certain fees from students designated for use by the Association. The University transferred $1.9 million of student fees collected for each of the years ended June 30, 3008 [sic] and 2007.
In 2008, it appears as if the University gave Athletics $4 million. A USA Today story from February 2004 reported that the University had imposed a tuition increase to provide $3 million to Athletics at the time, so the higher figure sounds about right.

Athletic supporters might note the "retention and gender" benefits the University is allegedly getting from half the money, but my guess is that UofL could get a lot more bang in those areas with bucks spent elsewhere. Also, the Athletic Department is mandated by law to produce gender equity -- and pressured by the NCAA to care about retention and graduation rates. They have to be paid to meet the standards?

I'm a fan of college sports, but I do not think the University should be paying millions of dollars to Athletics in a time of budget crisis. Basketball coach Rick Pitino makes $2.25 million annually. Reportedly, his salary will retroactively become $2.5 million/season if he stays until the end of his contract in 2013.

The University has an enrollment of about 21,000 students. Each and every one of them pays about $90 in annual tuition and fees to Rick Pitino and the rest of the Athletic Department every year. That accounts for $1.9 million of UofL spending.

As for the other $2.1 million, faculty have not seen a salary increase in more than two years. If the University had used that money to raise faculty salaries, each of the roughly 1000 full-time tenured or tenure track faculty would have $2100 higher income this year, less taxes and benefits.

During that two-year period, Coach Pitino received a $600,000 annual raise.

I realize that Pitino is a family man with five children, and he led the men's basketball team to a great season and top seed in the NCAA hoops tournament, but football coach Steve Kragthorpe is making a $1.1 million base during a third consecutive mediocre (or worse) season.

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