Athletics shows support for funding reduction in SFAC presentation
In the Athletics Department’s Friday presentation before the Student Fees Advisory Committee, Vice President for Athletics Hunter Yurachek requested the same base funding as the previous three years.
Despite that request, Yurachek announced that Athletics would also accept a 1 percent decrease in funding from SFAC over the next two years.
The announcement highlighted that Athletics is following the suggestion of Student Government Association President Shane Smith. In SGA’s presentation to SFAC on Tuesday, Smith said that all fee-funded units should strive to decrease their funding by 1 percent.
Yurachek said he wants to follow SGA’s lead.
“If that’s something that you guys as a committee feel is necessary to benefit the students, and to ensure that there’s not an increase in student fees, the Department of Athletics would participate in that,” Yurachek said. “Preferably over a two-year period, where we take a half-percent reduction this year and a half-percent reduction in the ‘19-20 fiscal year.”
According to Yuracheck’s presentation, expenses for the athletics program increase each year. However, Yurachek said the department is doing everything it can to minimize the impact of those increases on student fees.
The allocation of student fees given to the department is one of many ways Athletics generates revenue. Other large sources of income include the sale of football tickets and licensing and sponsorship dues from which the department makes an annual total of more than $7 million.
Yurachek said that UH, as a new member of the American Athletic Conference, garners less revenue than some of the other founding universities.
Multiple universities that joined the American Athletic Conference after departing from the Big East Conference still receive revenue from the Big East.
“There’s one more year of that, and then we’ll be on more of an equal playing field from a revenue-share standpoint,” Yurachek said.
In the presentation, Yurachek focused heavily on Athletics’ commitment to positively impact all of UH’s students. The department has recently entered a partnership with the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, which allows students interested in broadcast media to participate in the production of game footage and other content for Athletics.
Another benefit to students, Yurachek said, would be improvements in seating at future basketball games. The upcoming construction of the Fertitta Center will increase the number of student seating in addition to making those sections courtside.
“The athletic program is the front porch of any institution,” Yurachek said. “That does not mean it’s the most important room in the house, but it means at times it’s the most visible part of the house.”
Athletics had many accomplishments during fiscal year 2016. Yurachek said that 11 of the 17 athletic teams achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and 90 student-athletes earned degrees.
Cougar football won the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against the Florida State Seminoles, and various teams within the department won four American Athletic Conference team championships.
“Our focus is on our student-athletes,” Yurachek said. “When our student-athletes are successful academically, athletically or as members of the community, we’re successful as an athletic department.”