By the way, make sure you read the second story in the piece about LSU football to which I just posted the link. It’s the quintessential story of financial life at P5 schools in today’s South.
Think because LSU’s athletic department pays all of its own bills that the slashing and burning of higher education funding isn’t going to affect the Tigers?
LSU announced Tuesday the construction of its long-anticipated Tiger Athletics Nutrition Center will be postponed indefinitely.
Construction on it was supposed to begin in April. But because of the unseemliness of building another athletic palace while the academic side of the university is crumbling, the athletic department has decided to postpone said construction for now.
The athletic department has raised the money. That’s not the problem. The nutrition center will get built eventually. The problem is building a four-star restaurant while your neighbor is struggling to pay for his groceries.
Image, as they say, is everything.
Most SEC schools have or have plans to build a nutrition center. Oregon already has a fancy one, which bears a sign over the serving line that encourages Ducks athletes to “Eat Your Enemies – And The Other Food Groups.”
Whether LSU’s athletes truly need a dedicated nutrition facility is a matter for worthwhile debate another time. But what isn’t debatable is that Louisiana’s lack of commitment to higher education is starting to impact whether LSU will be able to land some high-profile commitments in a tangible, brick and mortar way.
SEC athletic programs are rolling in dough. The schools they’re affiliated with, well, that’s another story. LSU is in a worse case situation, exacerbated by Jindal’s ideology trumping competency, but there’s little doubt that, across the region, there is less and less financial support for public institutions coming from state government.
And while this story is about not rubbing people’s faces in the athletic department’s prosperity, the underlying message is that these schools need money to run and that won’t change in the face of public funding drying up. Schools have no choice but to go where the money is coming in, and in the SEC that’s television. Every bit helps, and the presidents whom Slive answers to know that. So don’t expect any moves that would endanger the cash cow. They literally can’t afford that.