LSU explores academic bankruptcy despite increasing SEC football related revenue
Athletic revenues may be increasing, but Louisiana State University is struggling mightily with regards to its academic budget.
As funding from the state hits crisis levels, LSU is considering a bankruptcy type option to manage the financial dilemma. The term is financial exigency, and it is essentially a plan to cut costs in coping with declining funding or revenues for the university. The process would enable LSU officials to have more flexibility in laying off faculty and cutting academic programs. Opponents of the plan say that it will make recruiting top faculty in the future nearly impossible.
Without a solution from the Louisiana Legislature, state schools such as LSU face a possible 82 percent cut in state funding. As noted in a recent NOLA.com article, that would equate to a cut from roughly $3,500 per student in state funding to approximately $660.
The topic of drastic cost cutting measures on the academic side while salaries increase on the athletic side is always a controversial topic. SEC schools are being hit with tidal waves of cash from the newly launched SEC Network which has led to a recent hiring spree of basketball coaches across the conference. However, critics of skyrocketing coaching salaries while academic budgets remaining stagnant or cut is nothing new.
The bottom line is that the trend of top-tier college athletics generating increasing amounts of revenues while college academic funding continues to be a challenge is likely to continue.
Today, television networks are willing to pay more and more money for live sports programming as live sports remains one of the only entertainment options bucking the on-demand/netflix/DVR world of consuming television content. Meanwhile, government budgets continue to be strapped for cash and universities are finding themselves competing with a new crop of digital education platforms around the world.
Interestingly, it’s not uncommon for university officials and administrators to double down on the athletic side of the equation while academic programs are cut. It can be justified when you consider the LSU football team playing a nationally televised game on Saturday night to be the best form of advertising that the university can present. This advertising, many hope, will help keep the students coming and the government backed student loan payments flowing. This strategy, however, is no sure thing (just ask UAB).
This won’t be the last time we hear of a college football powerhouse university having financial difficulties.