Tardiness of report questioned

By Jerry Lawrence

The controversial student fee increase that would fund intercollegiate athletics through student fees if approved, might have been turned into the NIU administration late. NIU officials refuse to say if the report was late, why the report was late, or when it was actually turned in.

The student fee increase has yet to be approved by the President’s Fee Study Committee, NIU President John La Tourette and NIU’s governing board, the Board of Regents.

All materials to be considered by the President’s Fee Study Committee were to be turned in by Nov. 25.

An Oct. 28, 1992 memo from La Tourette states, “Please forward budget sheets on all fees and proposals for fee changes to Don Davidson in the Provost’s Office by Nov. 25, 1992.”

“Let’s just say not all of the fee requests arrived on that date or by that date,” Davidson said.

Davidson, who chairs the fee study committee, refused to comment when asked if the athletic request had been made by the mandated date.

Davidson said several reports were turned in late, but would not say which ones. When asked why the unnamed reports were late, Davidson responded, “Why are any reports late?”

Student activity fees currently make up 40 percent of the total athletic budget and state-appropriated funds make up 46 percent of the budget. Intercollegiate athletics is looking for a source to pull in the remaining 46 percent of their budget that has been reallocated. Intercollegiate Athletics Director Gerald O’Dell has recommended that some of the money come from student fees.

The athletics proposal was not scheduled for discussion until the fourth meeting of the fee study committee, Feb. 4. The committee first heard student fee proposals on Jan. 14.

Davidson said the discussion of the fee increase for athletics was not scheduled later in the sequence of meetings in order to intentionally limit the amount of time the issue could be debated before it had to be approved.

“No, that schedule was set upon prior usage or prior custom. There was nothing deliberate in that,” Davidson said.

Davidson said the meeting schedule resembles those used by the committee before.

For the 1992-1993 academic year, intercollegiate athletics received $2.2 million from state-appropriated tax dollars. The tax money is being pulled out of athletics and being put toward academics as part of the proposal. The fee increase is intended to partially offset the loss of appropriated funds.

O’Dell, who proposed the 5-year phased-in $4.01 fee increase per credit hour to fund athletics, was not available for comment. A secretary in his office said he is on a retreat and will not return to his office until Monday.

Documents that will reveal the date the request was actually made are being sought by The Northern Star under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.