UNC-system board wants more spending oversight in athletics

The UNC-system Athletics Financial Transparency working group, which was composed of system officials and directors of athletics, recently recommended that college athletics’ financial reports be reviewed on an annual basis by the school’s chancellor, Board of Trustees, the UNC-system president and the Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors approved all 10 of the group’s recommendations earlier this month.

UNC-system President Tom Ross created the working group last fall to identify ways to improve the transparency of college athletic finances in the system.

Thomas Shanahan, vice president and general counsel for the system, said the working group identified exactly what types of information the Board of Governors and campus Boards of Trustees should review, as well as the most appropriate sources to get the information from.

The Board of Governors does not have direct oversight of campuses’ athletic programs.

The additional transparency will allow the board to ensure that colleges are meeting expectations.

Philip Dubois, chancellor at UNC-Charlotte and the chairman of the working group, said chancellors are already familiar with financial data related to athletics.

“What might’ve been new is to formulize a process to make sure that it gets looked at by the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors every year,” he said. “The overall message behind this was that more information will help people make better decisions and better understand their athletic programs.”

According to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, every UNC-system school must submit financial information for its athletic programs to the Department of Education on an annual basis.

The NCAA requires every Division I institution to submit a yearly NCAA Operating and Capital Financial Data Report, which includes raw financial data such as capital expenditures, operating revenues and expenses.

“The financial information isn’t secret, it’s out there for everyone to see,” Shanahan said.

Bubba Cunningham, UNC-CH’s athletic director, said in an email that it is too early to tell exactly how the report’s recommendations will affect the University’s processes.

Another system-wide task force, also chaired by Dubois, is in the works. The group plans to assess the role of student fees and what kind of guidelines should be implemented for their collection and use.

System officials, including Board Chairman Peter Hans, said the athletics financial transparency report was a first step toward improving college athletics.

“We all realize college athletics provides many benefits, and that’s why for it to be truly successful, college athletics must be policed and transparent — otherwise you risk our priorities getting out of bounds,” Hans said.

Senior Writer Hayley Fowler contributed reporting.


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