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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Opinion

Funding for athletics is justified


fans and sports

Athletics is a big focus in the University’s goal to achieve national recognition.  |  Justin Tijerina /The Cougar

A little more than a year ago, when I first began classes at UH, I was concerned with the University’s spending. It’s been year, and I couldn’t disagree more.

The problem is, most students believe that there is a sort of competition between the academic and athletic departments on campus, but there really isn’t. Athletics and academics are only two expenditures within the UH system and are far more likely to cooperate than ever compete.

First, let’s look at the major problem students have here: funding.

There is a set amount of money which has to be dispersed among different organizations in the UH system, either through the Student Fees Advisory Committee (SFAC), or by the UH System Board of Regents that use all of sources of income. If we take a look at the 2015 budget, will we see a gigantic disparity between athletic and academic funding?

Yes we will.

The approved FY2015 budget for all academic college funding just inside UH’s main campus amounted to $362,103,937. The athletic department as a whole was given $26,429,965.

The same story remains with construction costs. Total, the main campus plans to spend $146,978,295 on what it calls “capital projects” in this fiscal year. Of that money, only $23,190,464 plans to be split between TDECU Stadium and Hofheinz Pavilion.

The most expensive project on the list is the Multi-Disciplinary Research & Engineering building costing $30,038,640, with the Health & Bio Science building coming in second costing $25,266,319.

But what about SFAC funding?

According the same budget, intercollegiate athletics makes up $4,407,707 with another $3,375,000 going to athletic construction projects of the roughly $21 million total SFAC has to allocate, making them the largest draw on the Student Service Fee. Remember, SFAC is made up of students and faculty who decide this issue and can deny this money if a good enough reason for having this money isn’t met.

Keep in mind, we are but one school in the UH system. With a total system-wide budget of $1.5 billion this year, athletics is only getting about four percent of the total system wide budget.

There is not a fight between academics and athletics. With record student enrollment and an ever improving powerhouse of academics, how could one believe that academics were being neglected?

Sure, on the face of it all, a big new football and basketball stadium are worrisome to the average student. As I’ve shown, however, the fears are unwarranted.

“The University must continue to invest in its existing programs and services in order to make progress on its goals of national competitiveness and student success,” according to the budget. “In particular, we must fund new faculty positions in areas of research strength and high instructional demand, and we must provide the financial and academic support needed to recruit Tier One quality students and ensure they graduate in a timely manner.”

Unsurprisingly to me and I’d hope to everyone who reads this, within the budget, the Board of Regents label this “Priority One.”

Opinion columnist Austin Turman is a political science junior and may be reached [email protected]

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