[Vision2020] His View: I reject the $4 million request for UI athletics

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Apr 13 01:08:55 PDT 2017

Courtesy of today's (April 13, 2017) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with thanks to Nick Gier.


His View: I reject the $4 million request for UI athletics

By Nick Gier

In 1982 I circulated a petition on the University of Idaho campus asking that state appropriated funds not be used for athletics. My main argument was that these funds should be used solely for academics.

A resolution supporting this petition was passed by the Faculty Senate and sent to the UI administration. For four years (1983-87) the Vandals, presumably without a subsidy, won five Big Sky football championships.

With Don Monson's superb coaching, UI basketball also excelled during this period. In 1981 and 1982 the team, also without subsidies, won two Big Sky championships. They then went to the NCAA playoffs, losing in the first round in 1981. In 1982 the Vandals made the Sweet 16, but they lost to Oregon State 60-42.

In 1987 the State Board of Education authorized $665,500 in appropriated funds for UI athletics, which has now has grown to $949,500. This is still not enough to balance the athletic budget.

UI Finance Vice President Brian Foisy estimates a deficit between $900,000 and $1 million. The athletics department is now asking $1 million a year for four years to bring the budget out of the red. I have urged the UI Faculty Senate to reject this request.
UI athletics has received benefits that no other university unit has. In 1995 then-President Robert Hoover gained approval for an unprecedented transfer of $500,000 from the UI Foundation to finance the move to Division I-A Football, where the UI has been ranked at the bottom, with few exceptions, ever since.

At the same time, UI athletics was given a reduction to 1 percent from the 6 percent administrative fee that each campus unit was charged. The reason offered was that UI teams promote the University's "brand." This fee for academic units has now risen to 10 percent, but the fee for athletics has been waived completely because of their current financial crisis.

UI President Chuck Staben has made a wise decision in returning football to the Big Sky Conference. (The other teams returned in 2014.) The principal disadvantage would be the loss of some substantial games guarantees that come with playing big-name schools.

Moving back to the Big Sky has, however, two major advantages: travel expenses would be reduced dramatically and attendance would most likely increase. Many more fans 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, Portland State and Idaho State.

Staben has received criticism from some Vandals fans, but The Spokesman-Review reported "that about two-thirds of the unsolicited emails he received before the decision came from people who favored it and that a small group of new donors have cited the jump to the Big Sky as their reason to start giving."

In his superb investigative report, UI student Zach Lien has not only updated national studies on donors and student enrollment, but he also done an in-depth survey of student opinion about UI athletics. Lien found that when students learned that athletics was not profitable, only 2.7 percent supported increasing student fees to fund the teams. Read his report at:


At its April 19-20 meeting in Moscow, the SBOE will decide whether to grant UI athletics an extra $4 million for the next four years. In 2004 I urged the UI Faculty Senate to reduce the subsidy to $300,000, but with then-UI President Tim White arguing against the idea, the senators rejected my proposal unanimously. The current Faculty Senate has so far refused to put the issue on the agenda.

I have urged Lien and his fellow students to make a presentation to the SBOE and attempt to convince the board that this money is badly needed for academics not athletics.

Nick Gier of Moscow taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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