Apr 082008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

After coming under two weeks of close scrutiny from student government when student leaders learned that Athletics would be requesting a two-month late student fee increase, Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk addressed the Student Fee Review Board, telling them that he would not, in fact, be requesting the increase.

The presentation came after Tony Frank, the senior vice provost sent a letter to student leaders saying Athletics was withdrawing the proposal.

Kowalczyk expressed concern over the financial situation of the department that leaves a $2.4 million hole in the program’s $21.5 million budget. The hole appeared after three expensive coach buyouts over the last three semesters and years of financial neglect from CSU administration.

“I feel like I’m the fire department,” he said. “We’ve had not one burned out building, but three.”

University reports for fiscal year 2007 show that CSU is dead last in the Mountain West Conference for athletics funding. Kowalczyk said there is a direct correlation between funding and athletic quality, citing numbers from the top schools in the conference.

“Nobody can tell me that we’re overemphasizing Athletics,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get out of the hole before it gets bigger.”

Without the fee increase, he said, the department will need an extra $800,000 after CSU compensates for the $1.6 million of the lack of funding for next year. That money, Frank and Kowalczyk said, will come from a one-time emergency fund that the university will supply.

The program needs a big overhaul to make CSU sports teams competitive in the next few years, Kowalczyk said, which includes improving athletic resources for the student athletes and providing special academic amenities to get the teams back on track in terms of school.

“I have a responsibility to our student athletes to improve what we give them,” he said, citing poor workout equipment and a lack of academic help from the Athletics Department. “Nothing’s going to change unless we invest in our Athletics Department.”

Student leaders expressed frustration with the lack of transparency when they learned about the late fee increase request. Kowalczyk apologized for the method in which the increase was posed to students, but said it was out of his hands when administration told him they would not be able to fund the program in its entirety next semester.

“I’m sorry it came out that way,” he said. “I don’t like to operate like that.”

He said a fee increase was likely next year, but depends on the sustainability of the program.

He said they couldn’t raise ticket prices because of the poor performance of the major teams over the last few years, but hoped to increase revenue by playing successfully.

“We’re at a ceiling for the next couple of years,” he said about ticket prices.

News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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