Athletic Department
Gets Huge December Stocking Stuffer

by Eric Gilmore

Buried in the optimism of Tuesday’s headlines was an early holiday present for Pirate followers. And yet most fans still missed it. When most journalists, including myself, were busy cooing over the final two football games, Terry Holland was busy securing ECU’s future financial security. And it wasn’t from the source where most would expect.

No booster or Pirate Club regular will be honored with naming rights for Holland’s approximate $1.15 million Monday night pick-me-up. Instead, Holland lobbied the SGA senate successfully for a $50 increase in student fees. Associate AD Nick Floyd argued successfully for the same increase a calendar year ago.

Simple computation shows that the athletic department has seen an approximate $2.3 million hike in their overall budget over the last two years. Comparatively, the entire annual funding from the Pirate Club is approximately $3.2 million. The new $436 per-student fee brings a direct $10 million contribution to the athletic budget for 2006-2007.

Talk about a long thank you note.

The Student Government Association senate is a faction of the student body that is a voice for the approximate 23,000 students. Even though the SGA’s votes need still final approval from the BOT, the senate’s recommendation is supposedly heavily considered.

While most students are busy with term papers or chasing tail, the SGA senate is a savvy bunch that has experience in university politics. Athletic officials originally wanted to present their fee raise in the friendly confines of Dowdy-Ficklen’s club level seating. But the senators weren’t having it, forcing athletic officials to adhere to the same rules as every other university service.

However, the rules actually are slightly skewed athletics. Every other student fee has money that is earmarked for specific improvements. The athletic fee is given in a lump sum, which frees up Holland to disperse the funds however he sees fit.

In what has become a state’s arms race, the UNC BOT pinned their athletic fee on students for a $100 increase this year. Currently, a $50 per-student fee increase proposal for 2006-2007 has been adamantly opposed by their SGA. Dick Baddour, will present the UNC proposal - on top of a $100 increase next year - in January.

Does it matter that Wachovia is delivering $9.1 million over eight years toward the Tarheels to hang permanent signs inside the Dean Dome? Or that a university that is being paid over $1 million per year by a corporate sponsor yet still relying on their students for budget increases. Isn’t that selfish?

I digress. Kudos to Holland for keeping par with these ACC schools by getting his much-needed increase. But as a student, I don’t want to hear complaints about how the section isn’t full or how we’re not contributing. I’m not going to listen to gripes about five-hour bus trips or continual financial debt.

And a slap on the wrist for fans not noticing the big news. I just know that I’m doing my part when some one-win New Hampshire head coach receives a monthly check signed by ECU. Same goes for Logan, Thompson and Mazey.

Eric Gilmore