University of Central Arkansas administrators met Wednesday with members of a committee that are digging into questions surrounding the university’s Athletics Department.
Faculty have been upset since they learned some coaches and staff received pay raises this year even as faculty in academics have had only one pay raise in five years. Faculty did receive one-time $1,000 bonuses this year.
Tensions are rising over how resources are divided, said committee Chairman Brain Bolter on Wednesday.
“Faculty has suffered a bunch over the past few years,” Bolter said. “We want to make sure we are all on the same team here.”
Looking into athletic department issues is a means to make sure academics and athletics are balanced, members said.
Academic faculty are questioning student fees and academic funding going to fund faculty bonuses and salary subsidies in the athletic department. The questions come two years after UCA received full NCAA Division I Active Membership. The move was at least partially funded by money from auxiliaries, such as food service and housing.
Last week, the committee submitted a lengthy list of questions to President Tom Courtway. Questions ranged from concerns over academic funds used to fund the athletics program to coaches’ roles in the Academic Success Tutoring Center. On Wednesday, Athletic Director Brad Teague, Vice President for Finance and Administration Diane Newton and Courtway gave the committee a written response and met with them at the UCA library.
“The faculty and the staff deserve a cost of living (increase) and (pay) raises,” Courtway told committee members. “I’m committed to trying to do that. (But) You did not not get raises because of athletics. You did not get it because of other things going on at this institution.”
UCA’s move up from Division II to Division I did not cost faculty pay raises, Courtway said. Mistakes made over the past few years — including outright buying property instead of using bonds — left UCA in the red. To afford raises, the school must increase recruitment, retention and private giving, Courtway said.
UCA’s total enrollment has been declining slightly for the past three years, despite an increase in the number of incoming freshmen. Even so, the university has climbed out of a fiscal shortfall to reach about $12 million in unrestricted cash reserves.
Courtway said he plans to factor raises into the next fiscal budget. A 2 percent raise for faculty and staff would cost about $2 million, officials said.
“I think the raise is coming,” Courtway said. “I’ll say it’s coming.”
Click here to view the questions and answers.