Regents mull taking sports funds


The Iowa spirit squad runs before the team before the Iowa-Minnesota game at Kinnick on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2013. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 40-35 to stay perfect on the season. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

At the state Board of Regents meeting on Thursday at the Iowa School for the Deaf, the members discussed shifting funding from athletics to support academic and research enterprises at the three state public universities.

“Given the dramatic increases in all the media rights, licensing, fan tickets, and all the rest, are we at a stage where we might take that to the next level and actually have athletics support, on an ongoing basis, to a portion of the academic side of the institution?” said University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld.

The Daily Iowan previously reported in an April 15 interview that Harreld said he has put forth the idea that Hawkeye sports programs could contribute to the academic budget.

“I’d like to see it happen relatively soon. I’d like to stand up and be one of the first major institutions in the United States that says, ‘Hey, it’s moving the other way,’ ” he said, referring to developments initiated in 2007 that cut off state tax dollars to Hawkeye athletics programs.

The UI is not the only school considering the shift. Iowa State University President Steven Leath said he would love to see athletics at ISU provide financial support to academics.

However, he was not optimistic about this occurring anytime soon.

“We are facing a number of very large, comprehensive serious lawsuits related to athletics,” Leath said. “So before we would change our budget structure and put money into academics, we want to at least get past some of these immediate lawsuits.”

In order to support academics, the regents considered other methods of gaining more funding, including increasing tuition for the 2016-17 school year.

Harreld said he was dissatisfied by the amount of money the UI received from the state government.

“We didn’t get the money that you wanted from the Legislature and the governor, nor did our other universities,” Harreld said. “It’s obviously going to be more challenging. We’re probably going to have to stretch it out a couple of years and we’ll have to prioritize certain colleges.”

Harreld referred to the decision lawmakers made earlier this week. The regents had requested $20.4 million more for the three state universities. Under this funding proposal, ISU would have received $8.2 million, UNI would have received $7.7 million, and the UI would have received $4.5 million.

However, state lawmakers only allocated $6.3 million more for the three universities, $2.2 million for ISU, $2.78 million for UNI, and $1.3 million for the UI.

Regent President Bruce Rastetter said the regents were disappointed with the decision, too.

However, he acknowledged that the state economy has suffered and education consumes a significant portion of the state budget. He advised that the universities suggest more than simply raising tuition.

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