A 2018 NCAA audit revealed NIU Athletics bought back 56,345 football tickets totalling $273,619 for the 2017 season to comply with NCAA attendance requirements. While the Northern Star Editorial Board realizes NIU Athletics is at the mercy of the NCAA attendance requirements to maintain Division I status, we disagree with where the funds to complete the internal purchase were drawn from.
Senior Associate Athletics Director Debra Boughton confirmed a portion of the funds that went to buying back tickets came from the NIU Foundation, an organization that invests donations back into the university community. We believe taking funds away from potential scholarships provided to the entire NIU community to service one sport in the athletic department is irresponsible.
“We use revenue already associated with [football games],” Boughton said, according to an Oct. 18 Northern Star article. “For resources, we actually met with the NIU Foundation to get the resources we need to do an internal purchase.”
Boughton did not respond to the Northern Star’s request for comment.
The NIU Foundation’s mission is to “energize and connect the private sector with the NIU community to secure and steward resources that support the future and growth of NIU,” according to their website. Donations impact student scholarships, faculty and program support, facilities and venture grants. We don’t believe purchasing football tickets falls under any of these categories.
The Northern Star Editorial Board wants to know what percentage of the total sum of tickets was purchased with athletics revenue, such as funds generated from football games, and what funds were allocated from the NIU Foundation or other internal revenue sources.
When someone donates to the NIU Foundation, they are donating under the impression their money will be spent to “develop, support and encourage a culture of giving throughout the NIU community that will allow it to flourish and accomplish NIU’s goal of becoming the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest,” according to the NIU Foundation’s website. Donors believe they are funding scholarships, better equipment, updated facilities and student development opportunities; their endowments should not be used to buy back empty stadium seats.