UK Athletics needs greater efficiency, contribution

The ongoing rift between the UK athletics and the university’s general fund is nothing new. In 1987, UK athletics began giving back $1.25 million a year to the general fund. At that time, the athletics department had an annual budget of $13.8 million.

Today, UK’s athletic budget hovers around $74 million.  Its annual donation has increased to only $1.75 million, according to an April 21 article by the Kernel.

With student tuition increasing this past year, and several student classroom buildings in need of major renovations, this increase seems to be a tad modest in my humble opinion.

If not back to the university’s general fund, then where does all this money go?  Coaches take up a good portion, as $1.7 million goes to Joker Phillips.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Sept. 9 that UK football season ticket sales were down about 6 percent this year.  “We’ve got to give (the fans) something to get excited about and we’ve got to find those moments that create excitement for our program,” UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart said at the time.

After the last game against Louisville, I don’t see how that’s possible. Joker reminded us that we are only three games into the season.  “We’ve been here before, battled our way out of it. We’ll continue to battle our way out of this. We’re 2-1. We’re not 0-3,” he said on Monday.  As a casual fan, though, I rest assured that I’m not the only one who’s worried.

But our record is beside the point. The real issue is the empty bleachers. Blame it on the economy, blame it on anything you like, but I’m guessing our lackluster offense contributes to a good majority of it.

UK athletics is very beneficial for the University of Kentucky.  Unlike most collegiate athletic programs, it is self-funded.  It’s also probably one of our biggest recruiters, as many potential students put UK on their radars because of its sports. Nevertheless, we need to consider the specifics.

There is inefficiency within UK athletics.  It doesn’t make sense to pay someone $1.7 million when the result is decreased ticket sales.  Does this type of ‘over-the-top’ pay extend to other UK sports programs?  It must go somewhere if athletics is bringing in approximately $72.25 million per year.

I enjoy UK sports just as much as the next person, and I realize the positive effects it has on our university.  But with classroom buildings aging, student tuition rising and a decrease in state funding, this student believes that UK athletics should be more efficient and consequently contribute more money to the university’s general fund.