Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hope for the UNO Privateers?

Even though the student body voted NO in regard to an increase in fees to save the athletic department at the University of New Orleans, it looks like they might still have a chance. The City Council and several local businesses including the New Orleans Hornets might pitch in to help them out of trouble.

It is not uncommon for students and the general public to feel that athletic departments need to keep their hands out of students' pockets and away from "academic" money. The sad fact is that only about 40 athletic departments in the nation can fund themselves without using tax dollars allotted to their school. Many also feel that football revenues should go to football and basketball revenues should go to basketball. We non-revenue sports are fighting the academics and the jocks. If it weren't for the 16 team rule in division 1 and title IX, non-revenue sports wouldn't exist at all within the NCAA during the modern age of sports.

I mention this because, like Arizona State in the past and the entire New Orleans athletic department now (which just happens to not have a football team,) funding to keep programs alive will have to come from the community. A different kind of relationship needs to be built, and out of desperation, the UNO Privateers might be showing us how it can be done.

The arms race in football and basketball spending has no ceiling. No matter how much money a department can bring in, they will always continue to spend more to be ultra-competitive. Non-revenue sports will always be victims when those high dollar programs have a bad year for whatever reason.

When the Washington AD pointed out that 5 or 6 losing football seasons contributed to swimming being cut, they were laying it out for us. It could be a bad hire. It could be a losing season. It could be a temporarily poor economy. At some point, every school depending on football while also feeding the football spending monster will have a down revenue season and another sport will have to suffer the consequences for their poor planning.

I am not bashing UNO here. They were brave to rebuild after Katrina. They have done great so far with their limited resources. I only hope that they can move forward rather than having to hang it up because their student body didn't want to raise their fees. It will give me great hope if the local business community comes through for them, and in doing so, sets the example for the rest of us and what we can do in our efforts to keep Olympic sports safe.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, necessity is the mother of invention -- and who knows if what appears to be a set back actually spawns an entire new athletic funding system involving local businesses rather than alumni donations and tax dollars alone (optimism!!)

    Thanks for being the bearer of bad news and keeping us up to date on all the university swim team setbacks