As we all know, when it’s time to cut, the first and apparently the easiest place to cut is the academic side. However, faculty across campus have felt frustrated that the sacrifices are not shared by non-academic units. The University spends about $24 million from the general fund to support athletics each year. Because of this, and because of concerns about more cuts to come, the University Council Budget & Finance Committee recommended $8 million in cuts to Athletics over two years (this would be proportionate to the recent cut in Graduate School funding).
This proposal was met with strong opposition from the administration, the Board of Trustees, and the Athletics department. To help further the discussion, Akron-AAUP, Faculty Senate, University Council, and the Sociology Club sponsored Professor David Ridpath from Ohio University to come to campus to talk about his research on students’ perceptions of the importance of athletics and the impact of athletics funding on university finances. You can find his bio here.
What is clear as a result of this presentation and the discussion that followed is that universities like ours, particularly those in the MAC division, must develop alternative models for athletics funding that are affordable and sustainable but still provide opportunities for students to participate in intercollegiate athletics as part of their college experience. The discussions will continue, and we will be sure to include faculty representatives from the University Council Budget & Finance Committee, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Akron-AAUP Executive Committee, members of the Board of Trustees, and Larry Williams, our Athletics Director, in these discussions.
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