Thursday, August 19, 2010

Albuquerque Journal Editorial: NMSU Athletic Budget Taking Money From Academics

This morning's Albuquerque Journal editorial slams NMSU for lack of transparency in transferring funds from academics to athletics. I've reproduced it in it's entirety.

Did you hear the one about the Aggie who was alphabetizing the NMSU department list?

He thought "athletics" came before "academics."

That's more than a bad Aggie joke; that's been standard operating procedure at New Mexico State University, where officials plan to throw a Hail Mary pass of $4.1 million annually from academics to prop up a deep-in-the-red athletics program.
No matter that the Athletic Department is supposed to be self-supporting. Or that it hasn't operated in the black in years. Or that the state's higher education system as a whole is under fire for bad academic season after bad academic season. Let's just transfer $4.1 million out of Aggie academics and into athletics every year until 2018.

The Legislative Finance Committee has rightly thrown a flag on the transfers, saying that while they are "not financially improper," athletic programs are "not central" to the university's educational mission. It has recommended NMSU curtail its blitz on academic balances.
Give the LFC an "A" for effort, "F" for delivering a strong thesis statement with clear consequences.

Same goes for NMSU, which claims it is committed to reducing the subsidy and trimmed the Athletic Department deficit by $750,000 last fiscal year. Unfortunately, the scoreboard shows that reduction was courtesy of the $4.1 million from academics.

And NMSU isn't alone in calling this play.
If the state and its universities want to subsidize college athletics, then they can — and should — in an open and honest manner. Don't tell the public the programs are self-supporting, then shuffle cash intended for classrooms. Don't force academics to play defense year in and year out. The Legislature needs to blow the whistle on this play once and for all.

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