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UCA Athletics Compromise

Academics, athletics both important to UCA, officials say

Posted: March 25, 2013 - 8:35pm

University of Central Arkansas officials will make changes to placate faculty whose ire was raised over money going to athletic program pay raises, bonuses and facilities when faculty can’t have the same, said associate professor Brian Bolter, who heads a committee looking into athletics funding.

“I think everyone is happy with the outcome that we’ve discussed,” Bolter said.

Athletics Department Director Brad Teague plans to explain benefits — including scholarships his program provides — and say what he is willing to do differently during the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday.

The rift between academics and athletics caused tense meetings among faculty. Money was tight at UCA, faculty were doing without raises and raises to coaches caused faculty to want to look into funding for the program, faculty said.

“If everything else had been going financially well, we’d be saying, ‘Good for you,’” Faculty Senate President Kevin Browne said during the board retreat Friday.

Last year, some coaches received pay raises and bonuses when academic faculty did not. Faculty did receive one-time $1,000 bonuses, but they have seen only one pay raise in the past five years.

Athletics also benefits from money from the housing fund, supported by student fees living on campus. Some coaches are paid by the tutoring center funds to supplement salaries. The athletic program was paid much of the $2 million from the last 10-year beverage service contract, which came open for bid again this year.

On top of those issues, some faculty pointed to new athletic facilities that went up even as the science building continued to flood during wet weather. Programs are “starving” for money, Browne said.

Bolter said he and other officials met recently, and athletics agreed to go through the same process of getting new money as all other departments. That means the pay raises would have gone to a committee and at least had an advisory process, Bolter said.

Coaches will also be removed from academic support positions, including tutoring at the Academic Success Center, Bolter said. Officials also agreed to put on student bills that 5 percent of housing goes to fund the athletics program, he said.

Tentatively, administrators have also agreed not to increase the amount of money the athletics department may get under a new contract for beverage services with Coca-Cola Refreshment Co. Any advertising Coke might do that is athletics oriented, like ads on the scoreboard, would go to the program, but the department wouldn’t see an increase of money from the new contract, Bolter said.

Under current allocations, $70,000 goes to athletics, $25,000 goes to housing and $25,000 goes to the student center per year, UCA records show.

Under the new contract, with the same distribution, UCA would have an extra $93,000 to spend. That money could be distributed to other parts of campus, Bolter said.

The contract is expected to be for about $2.2 million over 10 years. But the contract is not final, officials said.

Teague said Friday athletics gives $3 million for scholarships, double what was given before going to Division I in 2010.

The program is funded mostly by student fees at $5 million, not academic-side money, Teague said. Then auxiliary funds account for $1.3 million and outside sources are $1.7 million, he said. UCA uses $1.1 million from educational and general funds and is under the state cap on what it uses, Teague said.

The program also brings in money from contracts for big games Teague is putting together. In the coming years, games with Texas Tech, Colorado and Kansas State will net UCA about $400,000 a piece, Teague said.

There is value in athletics and in academics, Teague said. He talked Friday about his program’s ability to keep students in school, get them on-campus housing and recruit students.

“It washes out,” Teague said.

Professor Don Bradley III, who had brought up questions about athletic facilities previously, said Monday the agreement and dialogue is a great first step for smoothing over faculty concerns.

“The problem is there’s not enough money to go around,” Bradley said.

UCA is climbing out of a deep deficit, reaching about $12 million this fiscal year, but trustees said last week the school needs more money if it wants to do all of the new facility proposals, maintenance and pay raises under consideration.

That includes a new $70 million science center that several trustees said they wanted to see built.

Bradley said officials are now more aware that they must spend more time on academic needs, not just athletic needs.

“Have we solved the whole problem? No,” Bradley said. “But, we’re making progress. At least people are talking and trying to work together.”

(Staff writer Scarlet Sims can be reached by email at scarlet.sims@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1246. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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regular_joe
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regular_joe 03/26/13 - 07:35 am
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Riff?

Shouldn't it be 'rift' and not 'riff'? A comedian might 'riff' on an idea, or a guitarist might play a 'riff', but i believe a chasm between two opposing entities is called a 'rift'.

Scarlet Sims
1976
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Scarlet Sims 03/26/13 - 07:12 pm
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You're right!

I changed it. Thanks.

em429
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em429 03/26/13 - 09:15 am
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facilities

"trustees said last week the school needs more money if it wants to do all of the new facility proposals, maintenance and pay raises under consideration."

Yes, athletics is one of the biggest drivers of revenue to the school. Yes, UCA is coming out of debt and athletics should probably "share the wealth" in the SHORT TERM to improve the campus, help with raises, and get the entire university financially stable.

In the long-term, most athletic related revenue should stay in the athletic department (proportionally as it is currently) as a revenue and recruitment driver.

UCA cannot "do all of the new facility proposals", etc that are on the table just because they can milk some money from the athletic department.

heathen
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heathen 03/26/13 - 02:14 pm
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You know, if athletics really

You know, if athletics really were such a big driver of increased revenue, you'd think the for-profit universities would be hustling to form sports teams. Anyone think we're going to see U of Phoenix playing for an NCAA national title any time soon?

em429
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em429 03/27/13 - 12:00 pm
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FGCU

Don't think for a minute that U of Phoenix hasn't thought about it if they could work it into their business model. Maybe they could start a online fantasy football league comparative to NCAA. But they have no need, Since they aren't really a brick and mortar school, they'll be just fine.

I know FGCU isn't a for-profit school, but they're in the sweet 16 and have only been division 1 for two years. My point with that is if revenue wasn't part of it, then why would a state school like UCA want to move up in classification? Why play higher level schools and get huge payouts for playing those games?

odoketa
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odoketa 03/26/13 - 11:25 am
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athletics is not a profit-making endeavor

It's not 'milking money from the athletic department' - college football is a money-loser, not winner. Always has been, always will be. The question isn't 'how much money are we taking from athletics to give to academics' the question is 'how much less can we spend on education to have a sports program'. Every other interpretation is a misunderstanding of how the game works. According to USA Today research, UCA students pay $5,053,343 for the privilege of having sports teams ( http://usat.ly/16VOitB ).

em429
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em429 03/27/13 - 12:19 pm
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article

Great article, pretty eye opening.

I agree with your statement, but no where, that I have seen, has there been mention of reducing student fees for athletics and allocating them to other departments. It has been about redistribution of revenue to the university due to athletics i.e. the coke contract.

odoketa
387
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odoketa 03/28/13 - 01:56 pm
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reducing student fees

Although it would meet the mission of a state school, I don't think we're going to see anyone clamoring to reduce student fees. In general, I think the state has decided that once they shove the money out the door they are absolved of all responsibility (save, apparently, making sure that ASU plays UA).

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