Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

UA Board to Consider Subsidies Cap for Athletic Departments

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

UA Board to Consider Subsidies Cap for Athletic Departments

Article excerpt

The University of Alabama System board of trustees is set to consider a policy today that would cap institutional subsidies of athletic programs at its three campuses beginning next year.

The board's Finance Committee approved the proposal on Thursday as part of its Fiscal Year 2016 budget discussions. Effective Sept. 19, 2016, the policy would cap athletic subsidies from the universities' general operating funds at levels in the fiscal year 2016 budgets.

The subsidies cap would not include revenues from other sources such as student fees and third-party support. Campus presidents would be responsible for adhering to the policy and providing quarterly updates to the chancellor.

The resolution noted decline in state funding to the system since 2008 -- a frequent justification for budgets decisions in recent years -- and the board's fiduciary obligations as reasons to support implementation of the policy.

In practice, the new policy would affect the programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Committee Chairman Ronald Gray said. Athletic operations at UA don't rely on subsides for operations, he said.

Based on the fiscal year 2016 budget proposals being considered by the board, institutional operating funds transferred to support athletics would be capped at roughly $14.5 million for UAB and $5.7 million for UAH.

"It is really just clarifying what we understood the ground rules to be at the time," Gray said, noting conditions laid out by UAB President Ray Watts when he announced the return of football, rifle and bowling.

Watts' announced late last year that he was ending the program, citing the financial burden of keeping it competitive. Watts also cancelled the rifle and bowling programs. He reversed his decision earlier this spring following a grassroots effort lobbying for the return of the programs and pledges of financial support from the community.

Watts said earlier this spring he would not increase the institutional support to athletics and the remaining funds needed to make the program competitive would have to come from fundraising and other sources.

Allen Bolton, vice president of Financial Affairs at UAB, said budget priorities included the return of football, bowling and the rifle program. …

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