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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Academics & Research

Athletics fight to raise recognition on a budget


Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades stood next to UH dignitaries as they broke ground at the new football stadium February 8, 2013. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

UH Athletics stretches every dollar, but ranks lowest in the American Athletic Conference in total operating budget and student fees compared to the other seven public institutions in the conference.

In Athletics’ presentation for the Student Fees Advisory Committee, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades highlighted the department’s success in sports and academics throughout the past year and department’s efforts to bring the University into the national spotlight.

“Over the course of the last three or four years, we were able to grow revenue, and we will continue to do that. (Budget) has never been an excuse for our coaches, staff and student athletes. We will continue to work hard and continue to improve upon those numbers,” Rhoades said.

“I want all of our students to know that (money Athletics receives from student fees is) well-utilized, and we don’t take it for granted. I think we are an institution that does more with less and are willing to do that.”

SFAC Chair Charles Haston questioned Intercollegiate Athletics’ involvement with Homecoming Week, saying that there seemed to be a lack of involvement from the Athletics Department.

“The week of Homecoming, it was really difficult to tell that we even had a Homecoming going on. It’s almost like student organizations responsible for Homecoming (weren’t) getting a lot of help from Athletics or the Alumni Association,” Haston said.

Though there were difficulties with Homecoming involvement because of the football game being played off campus, Rhoades said Athletics is open to continue improvements and community involvement initiatives like Homecoming.

There is hope to raise school spirit with the opening of the new football stadium next fall, and according to Rhoades, students should be proud of it and know that they played a part for the new stadium.

The proposed Intercollegiate Athletics annual budget is approximately $35.5 million, with roughly $4.4 million coming from student services fees, the same as in the past two fiscal years.

The new 40,000-seat football stadium is on schedule to open by next fall, and the new basketball practice facility should begin construction in May 2014.

Veteran Services 

Outgoing Interim Director of Veteran Services Offices Scott Sawyer wanted to change the perspective of VSO to focus on not only students, but their families, when it comes to military education benefits.

“It’s important to highlight that, over time, our mission really has expanded over veterans to support the children and spouses of veterans — anyone who is getting military benefits. This is a significant demographic change to students that we serve,” Sawyer said.

Starting last week, VSO was able to provide counseling for veteran students which is being paid for by Veteran Affairs.

“I was very annoyed that UT at Austin and Texas A&M … both had (their) VA pay rehabilitation counselors and occupational therapist embedded in their VSO, so I wrote the VA and called them several times. … We now have a rehabilitation counselor on staff, paid for by the VA. He is an incredible resource for our students,” Sawyer said.

VSO’s proposed budget for FY15 comes from dedicated fees and does not request any money from student services fees.

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