Apr 092007
Authors: Vimal Patel, Emily Polak

The athletics department is working toward the day it will become self-sufficient, but today is not that day, said Paul Kowalczyk, athletic director.

The athletics chief brought the star power with him on Monday to drive that point home to a student board that allocates funding – the new men’s basketball coach Tim Miles and running back Kyle Bell.

The Student Fee Review Board was supposed to decide whether to approve the department’s requested 22 percent increase in funding – or a total of $167 per student per year – from student fees, but due to several members of the board having to leave early, the vote was postponed until next week.

“We want to make this town jump and appreciate what we have at the university,” Kowalczyk said. “I’m not doing this for the money. I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. We’re all in this together.”

As athletics funding from student fees hangs in limbo, the SFRB approved funding increases for several other campus departments, including Hartshorn Health Services and the Lory Student Center.

Kowalczyk said he wants the athletics department to be more people friendly and have increased ties with the student body.

Pitching a Sonny Lubick TV show, hiring three full-time people whose sole purpose is to raise funds for the department, and launching an aggressive grassroots campaign to involve more alumni are just some plans for the future.

This will help boost the program’s image in the community and will increase the revenue streams for the program, Kowalczyk told the Student Fee Review Board, a student panel that’s in the midst of deciding how much money to distribute to various campus departments.

But the rosy athletics picture is one for the future. Right now, he said, the program needs money.

“We’re trying to pay our bills,” he said. “We need a budget base from which we can grow.

Athletics funding for CSU is the lowest in the Mountain West Conference.

Athletics is just one department making funding pitches to the SFRB. If all requested increases are approved, student fees will rise to $1,085, a 14 percent increase from this year and the largest fixed-fee increase in at least the last 10 years.

Bell said he wants the department to be more well-rounded, and that a solid athletics program is needed to boost morale.

“You don’t brag to your friends about how good the business department is,” he said. “You brag to them about how good your football team is.”

Miles, meanwhile, emphasized character development. Producing good athletes isn’t enough, he said.

“We expect our guys to be good guys,” he said. “We want to build a friendlier team.”

The SFRB is set to decide on athletics at next week’s meeting, slated for 3 p.m. in Room 205 of the Lory Student Center.

Staff writers Vimal Patel and Emily Polak can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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