In President Eric Kaler’s 2014-15 budget request, the University of Minnesota would receive nearly $1.2 billion dollars, including a $91.6 million increase coming in state funding. There is something important for all undergraduates to note in this budget, it is how Kaler planned to put a freeze on current tuition rates.
How much longer would the state give us money to do that? I think as long as they see the University is using the money wisely. I imagine they did notice when Kaler allowed the brand new athletics director Norwood Teague to allot $800,000 dollars to not face the University of North Carolina football team twice in two years. The athletics department says it will make up this money by hosting home games it would have not had regularly scheduled in their place, one of which was already at home. To have a home game played during the empty slots, the football department will have to pay teams to come here to play them. This may potentially offset the cost they are trying to erase; they paid New Mexico State $800,000 in 2011 to come to Minnesota, a game we lost, and are paying the same amount to San Jose State to visit next year. The athletics department says that this is athletics money not state money. But since when did the athletics program at the University become profitable?
The University gave more than $28 million dollars to the athletics program from 2005 to 2011. Comparing Minnesota’s athletics with other Big Ten schools in 2011, the only other school that was not profitable was Northwestern. So who is to blame? Many factors make up for how much money an athletics program produces. In a vast majority of universities, though, it is the football team that helps make up for the money lost on other sports that aren’t profitable. An example of this is the University of Wisconsin in 2011. Their football team profited $16 million, but the athletics department had a net gain of only $600,000. Minnesota, too, had a football financial surplus in 2011 of $14 million. So where is the profit going? I’m not sure, but Minnesota has two sports in the top-50 most profitable university athletics programs — football is No. 25 and basketball is No. 49 with $8 million in surplus. This kind of spending to synthetically improve our record may start to hurt its students.