Feb 112009
Authors: Shelley Woll

In his first address to student government as interim CSU president, Tony Frank told the Associated Students of CSU Wednesday night that the Athletics Department will request a $15 student fee increase for fiscal year 2010.

The request will come a year after student leaders blasted the department for submitting a two-month-late increase of the same amount after the Student Fee Review Board had planned for no increase.

Athletics officials withdrew the request within weeks, saying they didn’t want to place any more financial burden on students.

Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk had submitted the request, citing a $670,000 hole the department needed to fill after two years of expensive coach buyouts, including the firing of former head football coach Sonny Lubick after the team had fallen to a series of dismal losses.

Frank claimed responsibility for the mix up, citing an inaccurate projection of budget numbers that year and said the university had a responsibility to be transparent.

“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potentially erode student confidence in the fee allocation process,” Frank said in a letter just after the request was withdrawn.

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

But despite the state House’s proposed cuts to higher education next year — which could pull $12.5 million from CSU — Frank said that requesting a fee increase is necessary to fund the struggling department.

“CSU spends the lowest amount on athletics in the state and yet has one of the highest graduation rates of athletes,” Frank told the Senate.

Currently the Athletics Department spends half the average on athletics as the rest of the Mountain West Conference.

In addition to athletic increase, Frank also said current budget projections may dictate a 9 percent tuition increase, furloughs, pay reductions and a salary and position freeze.

Frank said the numbers are preliminary and much could change in the coming months.

“What I’m showing isn’t the budget,” Frank said. “It’s an estimate of what we would like to do.”

Frank will present the budget to CSU staff to give them a chance to comment on March 11.

The finalized budget will be approved by the Joint Budget Committee in June.

ASCSU Beat Reporter Shelley Woll can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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