In the eyes of some faculty members, UNC doesn’t need 28 varsity sports.
Outgoing athletic director Dick Baddour appeared Wednesday before a small group of faculty concerned with the University’s financial priority on athletic success.
“It has caused a diversion of important University resources,” said Dr. Lewis Margolis, an associate professor of maternal and child health during a Campus Y forum.
The event — which was intended to allow faculty members the chance to learn about Baddour’s administrative role — transformed into a discussion about how faculty feel they lack a voice in deciding the direction of University funds.
Several faculty members asked for a justification of financing 28 varsity sports when academic departments have experienced severe budget cuts and faculty have forgone pay raises.
Baddour was joined by Lissa Broome, law professor and faculty athletics representative, and Steve Reznick, psychology professor and chairman of the faculty athletics committee.
Several faculty argued that the University should de-emphasize athletics, particularly football, and return to the University’s intellectual core.
Baddour said UNC has increased financial emphasis on the football program because the revenue funds other sports.
“The University of North Carolina has decided that football is important, and it wants to excel, and it wants to do it right,” Baddour said.
He said the department hopes that UNC’s football program will eventually garner as much funding as the basketball program.
Baddour will be replaced by Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham on Nov. 14.
Reznick said the faculty athletics committee would be reluctant to see sports cut in order to save money.
“Athletics is part of our body,” Reznick said. “You can’t just remove the pancreas.”
The student fee advisory subcommittee recently rejected a $45 increase to the student athletic fee, which would have funded student athlete scholarships.
Broome said athletics add more to UNC than just revenue.
“There is a collegiate decor created by athletics that bind us all together in a way that doesn’t happen otherwise,” Broome said.
She added that Baddour has made academics a first priority for student athletes.
Silvia Tomaskova, an associate professor of women’s studies and anthropology, said she has found that academics are sometimes overshadowed by athletics.
Following the forum, Tomaskova said in an interview that she felt like she was told what to think by Baddour and the committee.
Margolis said the role of the athletic director should be guided by the same principles as other University administrators.
“We need to ask how certain activities advance the driving mission of the University,” Margolis said. “We have to ask what our priorities are, and in doing so, we need to be transparent. We can’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.”
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