Mar 242008
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Struggling with poor teams and expensive coach buy-outs, the CSU Athletics Department is planning to submit a proposal for a student fee increase two months after the deadline set for university departments, student leaders found Monday.

The Student Fee Review Board learned that the Athletics Department might be requesting the increase — likely to the sum of millions of dollars — despite initial promises from Paul Kowalczyk, director of athletics, that his department would not want to put a larger financial burden on students.

The Athletics Department was the only program that didn’t request an increase at the initial fee presentation in February, according to SFRB documents.

The possible increase, for which university officials have yet to confirm an official dollar amount, comes after the Athletics Department forced out former football coach Sonny Lubick last November and hired Steve Fairchild under a $700,000 a year contract a month later as Lubick’s replacement– marking Fairchild the third-highest paid coach in the Mountain West Conference.

But the department still owes Lubick nearly $1 million in severance pay over the next two years, according to his contract.

Kowalczyk said he couldn’t provide exact figures as the department crunches numbers to figure out how much they will need.

“You’ll have the information I need to tell you and the students need to know as we get it,” Kowalczyk said.

The SFRB found out about the possible proposal Monday before its weekly meeting with Blanche Hughes, vice president for Student Affairs.

“All we know right now is that Athletics may come forward with a fee increase, but we’ll find out more later this week,” said Katie Gleeson, the president of the Associate Students of CSU.

When the SFRB reviewed the initial proposal for all programs in February, the proposal document contained no increase from the Athletics Department.

During the February fee presentation to SFRB, Tony Frank, senior vice provost said the program had gathered enough money from fee increases in previous years to forgo an increase this year.

And after the February meeting, the Collegian asked how Athletics planned to support the program and pay off its debts without its annual increase, to which Kowalczyk said the program wanted to sustain itself without additional financial help from students.

Since, however, the department has discovered the need for increased funding, he said Monday.

Frank was unavailable for further comment.

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

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