Athletics commits $1 million to academics

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas department of intercollegiate athletics will commit $1 million to support the university’s academic mission during the 2009-10 fiscal year. Chancellor G. David Gearhart made the announcement during a news conference with Jeff Long, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics and director of athletics.

“This is great news, and it could not come at a better time,” said Gearhart. “We’re all used to hearing bad news about the economy and about funding for universities across the country. But in these tough economic times our athletic director, Jeff Long, has made a commitment. As a result, today we can tell a very different kind of story.

“We can talk about funding that will enhance the academic experience on this campus. We can say that Jeff Long’s decision will be a prime factor in the university’s ability to hold the line on tuition and fees: That for the first time in 24 years there will be no tuition increase at the University of Arkansas, and for the first time in 45 years we will not have a major fee increase.

“We can also remind everyone of the fact that Razorback athletics is an integral part of the University of Arkansas and the academic community: We are one university and we all share the same mission.”

“We are honored to be able to commit these funds to the University of Arkansas,” said Long. “While we have always been very active in our support of the university community, our recent agreement with ISP for multimedia rights, the forecasted revenues from the new Southeastern Conference television agreement and our own cost containment measures implemented within athletics provided us a unique opportunity. We are grateful to the University of Arkansas administration, faculty and staff for their continued support of our more than 19,000 students. Razorback athletics remains committed to developing students academically, athletically and socially.”

Gearhart said that the university administration will decide in the coming weeks how the $1 million will be spent, based on the university’s 15 core institutional goals.

“We have a number of areas of need, and the campus leadership will determine, as a group, where these funds will have the most impact,” Gearhart said.

The chancellor said that perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this commitment from athletics is that it is really nothing new at the University of Arkansas. In past years the athletics department has given more than $300,000 to help support Mullins Library, restore Old Main and build the Pat Walker Health Center. Athletics currently provides nearly $1.2 million in annual support and resources for such university programs and organizations as the Razorback band, the graduate program in athletic training and the sports turf academic and research program.

In addition, athletics offers ticket discounts to faculty, staff and students and makes athletic facilities available to be used for student internships. The department subsidizes campus services in physical education and recreation, life skills and communication disorders, as well as the psychological services clinic and the human performance lab.

“When you consider all these together,” Gearhart said, “the total annual support by athletics to the greater university community is nearly $4 million. I also want to make it clear that all of this funding comes from revenue generated through athletic endeavors. None of it comes from donor funds. Every penny of athletic donor contributions will always be used for its intended purpose to support our athletic program.”

The department of intercollegiate athletics is financially self-sufficient and operates on support generated by ticket sales and other revenues generated by athletic related activities. The department does not receive funding from the state, from the university budget, or from any type of student fees to support its annual budget.