Cutting sports would be illegal

By Chris Jurmann

The recent budget cuts called for by the state of Illinois have the entire campus searching for ways to save NIU money.

The NIU athletic department has been considered as a possibility by those around campus. However, according to state laws, it would be impossible for the athletic department to cut programs to help the current budget crisis.

The department fits mainly into non-appropriated funds, which encompasses money made by the school on campus.

“Ninety to 95 percent of the athletic department is made up of non-appropriated funds,” said Eddie Williams, executive vice president of business and finance and chief of operations. “Only a small amount of state money is meant for the athletic department – not enough to make a difference in the budget.”

The money that is to be cut out of the budget falls into the category of appropriated funds. Appropriated funds are monies received from the state for specific activities that are education related.

“Appropriated and non-appropriated funds are two separate pots of money,” Williams said. “There are specific guidelines that audit this. You cannot commingle and subsidize the money.”

Each pot of money must remain within its own set. For example, appropriated funds are money from the state of Illinois. Non-appropriated funds are gained through student activity fees, gate receipts from athletic events, corporate sponsorships and fundraising. Each cannot share its revenues with one another.

For example, if a random donor wanted to give money to help support the volleyball team, he or she doesn’t want to see that money then going to the state of Illinois to help alleviate the budget problems. This also can apply to students. A student doesn’t want to pay activity fees if all the on-campus activities are going to be cut.

The same works in reverse. The school cannot take money from the state of Illinois to help build up the football and basketball team.

“Money comes in for specific purposes,” Williams said. “You can’t be asking for money to support the bus system and then spend it on the Holmes Student Center.”

Although the athletic department is virtually immune to the current cuts, they too have fallen on harder times in recent years.

“Cuts within our department have forced us to make cuts,” Groth said. “The program is really on shoestrings right now. We cut two sports already and we don’t intend to make any more.”

Last year, the athletic department removed men’s and women’s swimming as a result of a tighter budget. The athletic department was reported to have saved $400,000 a year by dropping the two sports.