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Football: Fiesta Bowl funds go to academic priorities

Ken Fowler | Sunday, August 27, 2006

With Irish quarterback Brady Quinn celebrating on the field, ABC’s production team flashed a graphic on the television screen after Notre Dame’s 38-31 victory over Stanford last November, indicating that the win earned the school $14.5 million in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) revenues.

But it took until after the University’s fiscal year ended June 30 to decide how the money made from the team’s Fiesta Bowl appearance would be spent – on books, not footballs.

In a letter sent to faculty last week, University President Father John Jenkins announced the breakdown of allocations from that surplus.

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said Thursday Jenkins and University Provost Thomas Burish began discussing the allocation of the proceeds after the school closed its books for the fiscal year. He said Notre Dame’s standard procedure is to reinvest all the money profited from the bowl appearance into academic pursuits.

“Whenever we go to a major bowl game like this, we are usually going to have a surplus,” Affleck-Graves said. “Everybody should recognize the role that athletics plays in our community.”

He said the athletic department has now subsidized the university’s general fund with more than $80 million in bowl proceeds since Notre Dame’s first post-season appearance in 1925, a 27-10 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford.

The only money from the proceeds that went into the athletic department this time, he said, were necessary costs the University encumbered by accepting the terms of a BCS berth. Among the costs were travel costs for the team and band, hotel expenses and receptions for alumni at the game required in the BCS contract.

After subtracting the $3.3 million in athletic department costs, the school awarded the following:

u $3 million toward post-graduate student financial aid, including $2 million for graduate student financial aid endowment and $500,000 each for architecture graduate and master of business administration student aid;

u $2.7 million in upgraded equipment for the Jordan Hall of Science;

u $2 million toward need-based financial aid for undergraduate students;

u $1.5 million for library purchases and needs;

u $1 million to increase by 10 University-endowed undergraduate summer research slots;

u and $1 million toward job placement services for the spouses of new hirees.

Affleck-Graves said those five projects received the extra money because they are among the most important and exciting projects on campus. He said the $2.7 million spent on the Jordan Hall of Science would minimize the amount of old equipment simply transferred there from existing labs by allowing the University to purchase new materials for the hall’s labs.

Affleck-Graves called the $1 million on job placement services for the spouses of new hirees “important” and “exciting.”

To attract the highest caliber professors, he said, the University must try to help job candidates in dual-income families find opportunities for the non-professor spouse. That, he said, can be tough at times.

“The South Bend market is not the most attractive job market in the world, especially for professionals,” Affleck-Graves said. “It is an issue, and it has been an issue [with potential hires].”

He said this infusion of money into the program would provide more structure for school to help in job searches.

In the letter to faculty, Jenkins contrasted how Notre Dame’s athletic department subsidizes its academic institutions with the way other schools use their “general operating budget” to help fund athletics.

“Our athletic department provides significant resources for the academy every year, even when the team does not participate in a bowl,” Jenkins said in the letter.

Affleck-Graves echoed those sentiments, saying the Fiesta Bowl surplus is on top of the average $4 million dollars the athletic department contributes to the academic institution every year.

“Our athletic department brings in revenues to give back to the University,” he said. “That is something that is nearly unheard of in higher education.”