Faculty senator says WSU needs ‘self-sustaining athletics department’

WSU Athletics owes about $120 million in internal loans; attempt to combat increasing annual debt of $8-10 million

Von+Walden%2C+professor+and+Faculty+Senate+member%2C+said+WSU+Athletics+struggled+to+pay+debts+from+the+football+program%27s+stadium+and+facility+upgrades+for+about+a+decade.

SCREENSHOT OF MEETING

Von Walden, professor and Faculty Senate member, said WSU Athletics struggled to pay debts from the football program’s stadium and facility upgrades for about a decade.

TIMOTHY FAIRBANKS-CLOUSER, Evergreen reporter

A Faculty Senate member urged GPSA Senate to contact WSU’s student regent to oppose the proposal diverting $2-3 million annually from unappropriated funds to combat WSU Athletics’ debt crisis during a meeting Monday.  

Von Walden, professor and Faculty Senate member, said WSU Athletics struggled to pay debts attributed to the football program’s stadium and facility upgrades for about a decade. WSU Athletics has taken out numerous “internal loans” from other university departments in an attempt to combat an increasing annual debt of $8-10 million.

WSU Athletics now owes around $120 million in internal loans on top of its other loan, which the department will not pay off until 2039. He said WSU administrators hope the $2-3 million in diverted funds will help WSU Athletics pay off its loan, but the money does nothing to pay back other university departments for internal loans.  

“We support a self-sustaining athletics department,” Walden said.

Faculty Senate voted 48-3 in favor of presenting their statement of opposition to the Board of Regents, he said.

“The current funding proposal will reduce resources from the university’s land grant mission, which is not athletics,” Walden said. “It’s teaching, research and outreach.”

Walden said Faculty Senate does not disapprove of an athletics department; they only oppose the use of funds. Many people in the WSU community have made it clear they are tired of administrators appropriating funds to athletics instead of other education or research-related departments.

The majority of WSU’s faculty and students have no say over the Board of Regents’ proposal to divert the funds. Walden said GPSA and ASWSU members should contact student regent Arliegh Cayanan to advocate for opposition to the proposal.

Laura Lockard, director of public affairs for WSU External Affairs and Government Relations, spoke to GPSA Senate regarding how the WSU Impact website makes legislative advocacy easier for the community.

WSU established Impact about 10 years ago to expand education accessibility. Lockard said the website now emphasizes the current biennial legislative session in Olympia. The staff is working hard to keep the WSU community engaged.

Lockard said there is a resource on the website making it easy to connect with Washington legislators. A take-action button on the website allows users to sign up for Impact’s newsletter and find information about legislators.