[Utah’s college] officials [are] expressing little enthusiasm for cutting athletics programs even as their overall budgets saw a 12.5 percent decrease in state funding last year.
And in most cases, they say it hasn’t been much of an issue on campus, even as athletics spending has grown: from $12.8 million at Utah State University in 2006-07 to $17.8 million just two years later, and from $5.7 million to $7.2 million at Southern Utah University in that same period.
This isn’t, of course, straight-up awful. Colleges want to improve their athletic standing because that helps improve the prestige of the institution, bringing in more applicants and, perhaps more importantly, higher-paying out-of-state students. But it’s still somewhat troublesome.
Last year, for instance, students at Utah State University narrowly decided to increase student fees in order to provide $2 million to the struggling athletic department (that’s USU’s Romney Stadium above). At the same time, USU forced all faculty and staff to take an unpaid week’s vacation at spring break to close the school’s budget gap. Students did not get a chance to vote on that decision. [Image via]