Scoreboard privately funded: UK loan to Athletics dropped after opposition

By Rachel Aretakis

UK has decided to drop a plan that would loan UK Athletics money for new scoreboards and a sound system for Commonwealth Stadium, and it will instead be financed by private funds.

UK faculty and staff expressed concern about the plan last Monday in a Faculty Council meeting that would loan the Athletics Association $3.1 million for the $6.25 million project.

In the meeting they voted unanimously against the plan, asking the Board of Trustees not to approve the plan, Jay Blanton, UK spokesman, said.

The plan to fund the project was dropped on Thursday.

“The university still believed it offered good financial arrangement, but the Council on Postsecondary Education expressed concern,” Blanton said. “As we thought about it, there was a decision made to withdraw a proposal from the council.”

He said after much consideration they decided it was the best route, and the important thing from the athletics perspective is to get the work done.

Hollie Swanson, the chairwoman of the faculty senate, said she was pleased with the university’s decision to drop the plan.

“My take away from this is that we put some pressure on (the university), that we weren’t happy about it that,” she said. “We had concerns and that the administration responded.”

Swanson said she has gotten responses from faculty members being pleased that the administration heard them.

“Our concern is that were giving our students what they need to succeed as a university,” Swanson said.

Ernie Yanarella, a political science professor, began a petition to faculty members that opposed the loan.

“I’m pleased that UK athletics association has been willing to dig into money that it’s already had for a very expensive score board and sound system that many people have questioned,” Yanarella said. “If they want to pay for it, I’m happy for them to do so.”

The petition drive started last Tuesday, he said. It was brought to the Senate Council at the meeting on Monday.

“It seems to me at that point that we needed to mobilize more widely across the whole campus, among faculty who were similarly irate about the proposed action,” he said.

He said the petition drive will not close until Monday, and he hopes to have between 200 and 300 signatures.

Yanarella said he is hoping to speak about it at the next senate meeting to talk about the significance of the petition and “its importance for future protests that relate to financing higher education.”

“I think that they misgauged faculty attitudes about the proposed action,” Yanarella said.

Blanton said Athletics will request the Board of Trustees to approve $4.6 million to be taken from a UK Athletics “quasi-endowment” fund. The fund has a balance of a little more than $14 million and comes from donors for purposes such as this. Blanton also said that the money could come from a combination of this fund as well as other private donors.

“After five years or so of the faculty and staff stepping up to assist the university and its budgetary woes, it strikes many faculty, and I believe, that it’s time for the sports program likewise to step up and come to the aid of the University of Kentucky,” Yanarella said.