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Corporate sponsors right path for athletic department

By Wildcat Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 26, 2000
Talk about this story

Controversy is a part of a higher educational institution, for it takes an act of God for more than 40,000 students, faculty and staff members to agree on a certain issue.

Nearly every branch of the University of Arizona is surrounded by controversy at some point, and the athletic department is no exception.

In order for the UA to remain competitive in the world of collegiate athletics, it is essential that our 19 men's and women's Division I teams have the necessary funding.

This means making sure each team has the minimum funding needed for travel expenses, academic support services, quality coaching and proper weight training, at the very least.

Doing this properly costs quite a buck -26 million to be exact - each year. This may seem like an excessive amount of money for the university to squander on sports, but athletic department officials have taken the proper channels to ensure that students would not be affected. Namely, they have aggressively begun to solicit businesses as an additional source of revenue.

This avenue of fund raising might seem like "selling out" - especially considering that our athletic department currently has 34 corporate sponsors - but it a responsible way do everything possible to give all 19 of our teams a chance at national success.

Where else is this money going to come from? Not tuition hikes, as students have already shown their reaction to that idea earlier this semester. Not the state government, as lawmakers have clearly shown the university that their financial cupboard is bone dry. Not the university, as the athletic department has already agreed to give up 33 percent - or $500,000 during the next five years - to help finance the new student union.

Just like gate receipts, personal gifts, TV and radio contracts, and concession sales, corporate donations have become a primary source of funding for our university.

When UA Athletic Director Jim Livengood arrived in Tucson in 1994, the athletic department was far from the business partner it has matured into today. Two years prior to the beginning of Livengood's tenure, the UA had a gross sponsorship revenue of $76,875. During the 1998-99 fiscal year, the UA raked in more than $1.8 million -23 times what it was in 1992.

Livengood set forth the goal of lifting our athletic department up to the status of the nation's elite, and he has sought the money needed to back this up.

More importantly, though, he has done this without directly affecting students. True, some might not like the idea of someday seeing our football team play at Jim Click Field, but fighting for the corporate dollar has become a trend for many universities, and it beats the alternative of financially hurting students and faculty members.

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