University of Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear briefed Faculty Senate about the negative fiscal impact of the university’s recent transition between athletic conferences during last Tuesday’s meeting.
Spear said switching conferences will mean a reduction in the number of scholarships available to athletes from 85 to 63, which in turn means the department will do less recruiting. Until the number of athletes thins out to their new goal, he said the 63 scholarships need to be split up and spread out over 85 student athletes.
Spear said he thinks sentiment about the switch is split between a silent majority in favor of the switch and a frustrated minority that “took their ball and went home.”
“There’s at least five individuals that cost us about $100,000 in fundraising right there,” Spear said. “We hope they come back.”
Spear said going into next year, donor support will decline by about $400,000.
Spear said UI will also lose about $1 million in conference revenue from the Sun Belt Conference, at least a $500,000 reduction in guaranteed revenue from playing one less game and lower revenue per game.
Spear said the university will save some money by having a tour that “makes more geographic sense” and by providing fewer scholarships.
Provost and Executive Vice President John Wiencek said to get to games, the Sun Belt Conference required players travel long distances that fans were largely unwilling to travel. He said by switching to the Big Sky Conference, the university is more likely to have winning seasons.
“Do you do the right thing as an academic institution and let football sort of be something that is a program within a larger academic mission, or do you let football be the driving force and not worry about the main mission of the university?” Wiencek said. “We want the students, both the athletes and the students who go to the games, to be enthusiastic about it, be engaged and to be competitive.”
Faculty Senate also voted 15-4 to make participation mandatory in a pilot for a simplified position description form.
Faculty Senate Chair Liz Brandt said instructors use the form each year to communicate their plans for the following year and how they plan to allocate their time between activities like teaching, research and writing.
Brandt said the old form was impossibly detailed and that the new, simplified form will be tested in a pilot. She said Faculty Senate previously agreed to make participation in the pilot optional, but there was nothing in the form to test.
“Faculty in the tenure and promotion system are stressed as to which form to use,” Brandt said.
She said faculty members’ worries about fairness when different forms are used and her confidence in the new form made the decision clear to her.
The decision still needs to be approved by UI President Chuck Staben, she said.
Brandt said Faculty Senate will vote at the next meeting on another form, replacing the instructor performance evaluation form, which is currently largely numerical, with one that is more narrative.
“Different faculty have different passions,” said Kurt Pregitzer, Dean of the College of Natural Resources. “I think this will celebrate those differences.”
may be reached at
or on Twitter @NishantRMohan