Thursday, September 06, 2012

The perils of philanthropy

Breaking news: The Baton Rouge campus of Louisiana State University will take another severe budgetary hit next fiscal year, this time reportedly to the tune of $7.2 million.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's 2013-14 spending blueprint will mark the fifth straight year of severe cuts to LSU, but he is expected to announce next spring that the cut in state support for the flagship university will have virtually no impact.

"Things will operate on the Baton Rouge campus just as they did last year," Jindal will say. "Academic programs at LSU won't lose a single penny despite our ongoing program of creating efficiencies in higher education."

The governor expects no problem in getting the cuts through the Legislature.

"I expect they'll make the cuts if they know what's good for them," he will intone . . . somberly. "As a matter of fact, I think we might even find a few million more in efficiencies if the Tigers have a really big year in football."

Now I am no soothsayer, but I know this will happen. "How?" you might ask.

WELL, I'm happy to answer your question. The foreknowledge came to me while I was reading a press release from the LSU Athletic Department:
A policy believed to be unique in major college sports that would ensure that the academic mission of LSU would share in the financial success of the LSU athletics program will be considered Friday, Sept. 7, by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

The LSU Athletics Fund Transfer Policy would formalize an annual transfer of $7.2 million from the Athletic Department to other components of LSU for use in supporting LSU’s academic, research, public service and other missions. In addition, it would establish a revenue sharing component that could provide additional funds to the university’s mission and ensure that all facets of LSU share in the success of the athletics program.

“I am not aware of another university that has formalized a financial agreement such as this one,” said William Jenkins, interim president and chancellor at LSU. “The university has long been a beneficiary of the success of our financially self-sustaining athletics program, but this policy will solidify the connection between athletic success and advancement of the university’s academic mission.”

Over the years, various informal practices have been adopted for the transfer of funds from the Athletic Department to other components of LSU. As LSU has faced increasing budget pressures over recent years, fund transfers from Athletics to other components of LSU have increased. Most recently, the Athletic Department transferred an additional $4 million and assumed financial responsibility for the Academic Center for Student-Athletes at the cost of approximately $1.5 million to help offset a shortage in the university budget, staving off budget cuts and potential faculty and staff layoffs.

“It is important for an athletics program to play a role in the overall success of the university, and this policy breaks new ground in establishing the role of LSU Athletics in the mission of LSU,” said Joe Alleva, vice chancellor and director of athletics. “LSU Athletics has long-been a financially self-sustaining program and has transferred significant funds to the core mission of the university each year. This policy will take that support to an entirely new level.”
LISTEN, it's Louisiana. It's not rocket science.

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