UConn recently announced a funding strategy to improve university athletic facilities. The university will rely on private philanthropy and a facilities enhancement surcharge on non-student tickets to athletics events. By using these two sources of funding, the university will avoid relying on tuition dollars or state funding to finance any athletics facility improvements. This funding strategy is a judicious and reasonable solution given UConn’s financial woes.
Given the state’s large cuts in funding to UConn, as well as the large cuts proposed in Governor Malloy’s budget, UConn is facing a problematic shortage of revenue for needful improvements. The recent decision to raise tuition by approximately thirty percent over the next four years to make up for part of the shortfall has been unpopular among students and additional increases would be unpalatable to many. Recognizing the reluctance of both the State and students to contribute funds, the university has adopted a means of improving athletic facilities that is responsive to the concerns of both. Neither the State nor students will be required to finance these enhancements.
Relying on private philanthropy is a wise decision. As there are generous donors willing to support and improve UConn’s athletics, we should continue to engage in fundraising efforts among that class instead of using money from the state and students that can be better employed for the benefit of the general student body. The surcharge on non-student tickets is also an intelligent fundraising tactic. It is not unreasonable to include in the cost of a ticket a small fee for the improvement of athletics facilities. Those who purchase tickets enjoy attending UConn athletics events; requiring them to contribute a surcharge in support of the athletes they have come to see is a reasonable way to raise funds for these enhancements. In addition, the exemption of student tickets from the surcharge is solicitous of students who do not desire to see ticket prices increase.
This fundraising scheme is an all-around good idea and the Board of Trustees should be commended for endorsing it. It avoids relying on funds from both the state and students, two groups that are reluctant to offer revenue, and recognizes and utilizes the great generosity of private donors. It imposes a reasonable cost upon attendees of athletic events while being mindful of the student body. This funding plan is a thoughtful solution to one of the university’s financing problems and should serve as model, when practicable, to other financial dilemmas.