[Vision2020] Back to the Big Sky (Nov. 15, 2004)

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 28 01:42:08 PDT 2016


*Nick Gier, President*

*Idaho** Federation of Teachers*

*Dale Graden, President*

*University** of Idaho** Federation of Teachers*

*November 15, 2004*

*Moscow-Pullman Daily News*

            After two years of financial exigency (FY 81 &82), a petition
was circulated among UI faculty about the use of appropriated funds for
intercollegiate athletics. Over 120 signatures were gathered on a
resolution to eliminate that funding. The main point of the resolution was
that intercollegiate sports were not central to UI’s academic mission. The
resolution was passed by Faculty Council and sent to the UI administration.

            The faculty’s opinion on this crucial issue was ignored,
because as early as 1987 the State Board of Education authorized $665,500
for intercollegiate athletics, which grew to nearly $2 million for FY04,
according to UI budget books.  Furthermore, while all UI programs were
required to make substantial cuts, $322,600 was added to the athletics
budget for FY05, an amount almost identical to what the liberal arts and
social sciences had to give up.

            The UI Task Force Report (p. 75) states that the total athletic
budget has increased by 250% in the last 10 years.  For FY04 the
President’s office gave $500,000 in unrestricted gift monies to the
athletics department, which pays administrative fees of only one percent
while other units pay 6 percent.

            When athletic departments across the nation report that their
programs are profitable, they usually include appropriated funds in their
figures. If that money is removed from the budgets, the national average
for I-A schools, according to an NCAA study, is a $237,000 deficit, up from
a $174,000 deficit in 1993.  Between 1998 and 2000 the University of
Michigan lost $7 million in its athletics program, and in 1998 the
University of Wisconsin lost $286,700 even though it went to the Rose

            The Vandal Scholarship Board recently boasted about a $615,000
profit for UI football, but this becomes a $1.9 million deficit if
appropriated and general fund monies are subtracted.  (It is even greater
of this football surplus paying the way for other sports.) The same logic
would apply to an academic department: it could not claim that it had made
a profit unless its external grants exceeded the appropriated funds given
to it.

            UI athletic director Rob Spears recently reported substantial
increases since 1996, the last year that the UI was in the Big Sky
Conference, in advertising revenues and guaranteed payouts for its away
games. We would like to know, however, whether these increases are balanced
out by more scholarships, increased travel costs, and fees now being paid
to join the Western Athletic Conference, a conference where we would
compete poorly.  We are pleased to note that former Vandal football coach
Tom Cable supports a move back to I-AA status.

            Returning to the Big Sky would reduce the number of
scholarships required, would not required us to add new sports, would
reduce travel expenses considerably, would most likely increase attendance,
and therefore increase the economic benefits to the community.  Many more
visitors from regional teams would come to home games, and more locals
would come to see the Vandals play traditional opponents such as Eastern
Washington, Montana, Montana State, and Idaho State.

We are especially disturbed that, even before receiving any input from the
general faculty, President White has declared that the UI will definitely
join the Western Athletic Conference. We are also concerned about
statements from the UI new chief financial officer that the UI is not
spending enough to compete at the I-A level. Does this mean that he will
recommend that even more appropriated monies will be used to accomplish

We are further concerned about talk in regards to building a larger
football stadium, primarily because the UI has yet to meet the required
average attendance of 17,000 fans. The Kibbie Dome is an outstanding
facility and the Big Sky is good enough for a small university with no
population base for increased attendance. We are quite willing to cheer “Go
Vandals” but only in the proper contexts of academics first and athletics

Finally, if it Robert Spears is correct that going back to the Big Sky will
be “financial suicide,” then we should thoroughly rethink our commitment to
intercollegiate sports, because it is clear to us that the goal to make the
UI competitive at the I-A level will be a serious financial drain on the UI
for years to come.

*            Note*: Steven Peterson, a UI economist who has done extensive
research on UI athletics, has cleared this position paper for factual
errors.  (The exception was coaches’ salaries which can be checked against
the UI budget book.) The NCAA study “Revenues and Expenses of
Intercollegiate Athletics of Division I & II Intercollegiate Athletic
Programs” was done by Daniel L. Fulks of the University of Kentucky.  The
figures for Michigan and Wisconsin are taken from Andrew Zimbalist’s *Unpaid
Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports*.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/attachments/20160428/7b7b19c8/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list