OPS discusses reallocation of athletic funds

By Jami Peterson

Some budget committee members disagreed with the athletic department’s five year plan to improve the program and said more than $400,000, the amount targeted to be taken away from athletics over the next two years, could be taken away from athletics over the next two years, could be scrounged up to help NIU’s lingering budget.

NIU President John La Tourette formed the 14-member Organization, Productivity and Salaries (OPS) committee as phase two of his plan of attack to reduce the budget. The committee is searching for ways to reallocate monies and give all employees a 4.25 percent raise by July 1993, the end of the next fiscal year.

At Friday’s OPS meeting, La Tourette said at least $200,000 will be reallocated from athletics into NIU’s budget during 1993 and another $200,000 will be taken away in 1994. He said the money will come out of the athletic departments $2.27 million appropriated budget for operations and personnel.

“My objective is to hold down any increase in student fees and reduce the appropriated budget,” La Tourette said.

NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell outlined the athletic department’s five year plan, which began in 1988, to straighten out the budget and prioritize sports programs based on their incomes and promotional value.

O’Dell said the department has been successful in following the plan and generating more outside income. “Our long-range goal is to reduce a dependence on students’ fees.”

About 32 percent of the total sports budget comes from student fees, he said. However, most of the student fee money is used in grants and financial aid. “We are using student fee money primarily for the students,” he said.

Student Association President Preston Came asked how the amount of student fees used for athletics at NIU compares to the amount at other universities.

La Tourette said it is difficult to get those figures because each university categorizes its monies differently.

Eddie Williams, vice president for Finance and Planning, said other universities do not count the same things when evaluating student fees. “The money going into the program is generally about the same (at other universities) in terms of magnitude.”

Richard Brown, dean of the College of Business, said he does not think NIU’s football team, which is considered first priority of all sports programs, is playing the right type of teams to generate more money.

“In order to run up a surplus, you’ve got to give more than you get,” Brown said. “You’ve got to play better teams than you’re playing.”

La Tourette said the program is using the five-year plan to build up the football team and play better teams in the future.

However, Came said the athletic department is trying to become the next University of Illinois. “You’re trying to be everything to all people,” he said. “We can’t do that. We need to prioritize.”

Chief Accountant Doug Moore said the amount of money in the appropriated budget has increased 40 percent since 1988l, even though one of the goals of the plan is to decrease the budget.

La Tourette said athletics was underbudgeted and the department was spending more money than needed before 1988. After an evaluation, he said, the budget increased in order to improve the department.