Apr 072008
Authors: Erik Myers

Citing a contradictory promise made prior to a late proposal for an increase in student fees, CSU’s financially starved Athletics Department withdrew its request for additional funds early Monday afternoon.

Two weeks ago, Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk told members of the Student Fee Review Board that his department would request an additional $670,000 in student fees — an increase of about $15 per student — despite promises earlier in the semester that no additional burden would be placed on students to fund the struggling program.

Previous fee increases supplied the department with a sufficient surplus for the 2009 fiscal year, he said weeks before submitting the late proposal to a resistant SFRB.

Now, the department, in the aftermath of expensive firings and hirings of coaches this year, projects a need for an additional $2.4 million in additional revenue for 2009, and will instead pull from the university’s emergency funds, student government leaders said.

In a letter to members of the SFRB, Tony Frank, provost and senior executive vice president, said that despite the department’s need for the additional fees, an increase for 2009 would not be requested.

“I am aware that the late nature of such a request, coupled with the statements earlier in the semester that we would not be seeking a fee increase, raises questions among SFRB members about the administration’s intent and could potentially erode student confidence in the fee allocation process,” Frank said in the letter.

“(CSU President Larry Penley and I) both agree that it is important to honor our earlier communication to students.”

Kowalczyk is still scheduled to meet with the SFRB today at 5:30 p.m., but Trevor Trout, chair of SFRB and vice president for Associated Students of CSU, said because of time constraints, board members could request to move the meeting to April 21.

In the letter, Frank acknowledged that Athletics, which has seen a decline in self-funded revenue, would need an additional $2.4 million to fund its proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year. The late request for student fees, he said in the letter, came after the department became aware that the university’s budget would not cover the entire amount without cutting into the requests of other “vital programs.”

With options running out, the Athletics department will likely pull the funds it needs from emergency funds provided by the university.

“My impression would be, and according to (Frank’s) letter, they will utilize one-time reserves to address the situation,” said Katie Gleeson, ASCSU president.

Trout called the decision “a great return to being more collaborative.”

“The Board and I are happy that the situation worked itself out,” Trout said.

Trout added that the decision didn’t put all of his concerns to rest; there was still the issue of the expected fee increase requests from Athletics for the 2010 fiscal year, a subject he is certain will be a topic of discussion during his meeting with Kowalczyk.

“One thing to note: What are those fee increases going to be in the year following? Are we going to be expecting a $50 fee increase in the year after?” Trout said. “What the board and I want to do is start building a plan: How can get the athletic department that (funding) not solely on student fees, but with student fees as a contributing factor?”

Frank and Kowalczyk could not be reached for further comment.

News Editor Aaron Hedge contributed to this report.

News Editor Erik Myers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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