Apr 042006
Authors: Mike Donovan

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a three-part series highlighting the athletic departments monetary deficits. The second installment will follow March 12.

CSU is at risk of losing its Division I status if the athletic department continues to be under-funded, President Larry Penley told the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) Monday.

“If we don’t solve the financial deficits, we must question the viability of fielding a Division I program,” Penley told the board.

Penley appeared at SFRB’s weekly meeting to ask for a $15 fee increase per semester for each CSU student on top of the already approved $2.06 increase. Currently each student pays $53.50 each semester that gets earmarked directly for the athletic department. The added increase would bring the total to $70.56.

For the financial year of 2006-2007, the athletic department will be in debt more than $1 million, according to the numbers Penley presented. Projected numbers show the deficit will be roughly $1.8 million in 2008 if nothing is done. He made clear the increase in student fees would only work if alumni and boosters step up with additional funds.

“We must figure out how to make more money from a variety of fronts including tickets, advertising and equipment,” Penley said.

The SFRB will vote on the increase April 10. The fee board can decide to recommend the increase or send it to the full ASCSU senate with no additional increase. Board member Holli Kinkel, a sophomore political science major, understands the need for the increase in the athletic funding.

“I think the board is willing to give them a chance,” Kinkel said. “But they need to do a better job with their finances.”

The athletic department originally asked for the $2.06 increase during the Feb. 6 SFRB meeting. That four percent increase accounted for the average inflation, according to board members. Associate Director of Business Operations for the athletic department Philip Goldstein originally proposed that increase to the board.

A board member asked Penley what had changed in the two months since Goldstein’s proposal. Penley replied that Goldstein told him that if the proposed budget went through, the athletic department would have to deal with a 10 percent decrease for all sports.

“When they requested a four percent increase, even with that, we were dealing with significant cuts,” Goldstein said. “When the president found out about this, he decided to assist us in finding a way to stop these cuts.”

Penley was not ready to accept the 10 percent decrease without trying other options. He believes that a $15 dollar increase is an amount that will be acceptable to the board and the majority of CSU students.

“The $15 per student definitely won’t make up for the deficit, but it is definitely a start,” Penley said.

Penley made clear his belief that CSU must stay Division I to stay competitive not only in athletics, but also academics.

“There is no major state research university that I know of that is not a Division I school,” Penley told the board.

Associated Students of CSU President Courtney Healey was at the meeting and believes that maintaining Division I status is key for the university to prosper as well.

“We have a strong academic university and to be behind in athletics reflects poorly upon our university,” Healey said. “It would definitely be a blow on a national level.”

In the end, Penley hopes there will never be a need for a decision regarding the status of CSU’s athletic department.

“We need to decide what kind of athletic department we want to have,” Penley said.

Mike Donovan can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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