Giving back to the school

Now here’s a story that deserves more attention. Kentucky is embarking on three major on-campus building projects, none of which involve funding from the state legislature.

  • A $65 million renovation and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The $65 million project will be initially funded with $25 million in gifts and $40 million in agency bonds, approved by the legislature.
  • The $100 million construction of a Science and Academic Building. The 263,000 square foot building will be funded by agency bonds and is the result of a partnership with athletics unlike any other in the country. UK Athletics will fund 65 percent of the building’s debt service ― or, in total, about $65 million.
  • A $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Training and Recruiting Center. The project ― which will add suites and club seating, while improving the fan experience throughout the stadium ― will be paid for by agency bonds and funded through the construction of suites. UK already has a waiting list for suites.

Note that second item carefully.  The athletic department will fund almost two-thirds of the cost of an academic building.  As The Business of College Sports (h/t Kristi Dosh) puts it,

The first thing that stands out is an athletic department building announcement, particularly one from a major program, being included in an announcement of general university projects. Yes, all of the projects were approved on the same day but it is rare to see a university present such a united front with its athletic department. Keeping with that theme, the second bullet point contains an incredible nugget: the athletics department will fund over half of the cost of a campus building completely unrelated to athletics. In fact, all three projects will be funded by the university without the use of state funds. The project is being called BBNUnited. BBN, of course, stands for Big Blue Nation, the common nickname for Kentucky’s fan base. While many athletic departments donate money to their university (often to the general scholarship fund), very few make the sort of commitment that Kentucky has.

This is the sort of creative funding I expect to see more and more of as the era of dwindling state financial support for state universities gets into full swing.  We’ll see plenty asked of a college athletic department, like funding a major stadium expansion with its own resources, and even more given.  (“In addition to support of the new Science and Academic Building, UK Athletics contributes millions of dollars each year to academic scholarships and programming. In fact, in total, UK Athletics spends more than 25 percent of its revenues back on campus for university needs.”)

All of which leads me to ask Jim Delany another question:  how many Division III athletic departments fund construction costs for a $100 million Science and Academic building these days?

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7 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

7 responses to “Giving back to the school

  1. Chuck

    “the athletics department will fund over half of the cost of a campus building completely unrelated to athletics.”

    Sounds good, I know, but completely unrelated? Like student athletes won’t attend classes there? It’s only a matter of time before the AD (or Calipari) says to someone “Hey, he needs a C. Remember all those $$$ we gave you?” Wink, wink.

    Maybe it won’t be on the scale of North Carolina, but if it happens don’t say I didn’t think it might.

  2. Cojones

    It’s stories like this that remind us that school and athletics are joined at the hip for their own purposes as a part of the university experience. Innovation (in this case) is only limited by imagination, much the same as science. Kentucky is to be congratulated and admired for it’s academic/athletic environment that would make any alum proud.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    Do any of these fancy projects include a full-size indoor practice facility?

  4. Skeeter

    hehehe, the Nutter Center, heheheh

  5. section Z alum

    bonds are how states take on debt and then say they balance their budgets every year. the state money goes to the yearly payments. all that being said – even if the UK athletic association is kicking in bond financing over the life of the bond issue, kudos to them.

  6. Mayor of Dawgtown

    This makes me ask: Why is it necessary for state and local government funds to be used to build a new stadium for a privately owned professional football franchise?

  7. Keese

    So espn, TV revenue, conference expansion etc is not suvh a bad thing?