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Dannen: Regents move not meant to harm UNI
CEDAR FALLS - Troy Dannen will not cry foul or accuse the Board of Regents of doing harm to the athletics programs at Northern Iowa.
“Quite honestly, I don’t believe that there was any intent from the Regents on down to come up with a plan that eliminates additional opportunities or programs,” said Dannen.
Instead, the Panther director of athletics and his department will move forward with a multi-pronged plan to enhance alternate source of funding in the wake of a resolution passed by the Regents Wednesday.
The Board directed UNI and Iowa State to formulate plans for the reduction of general fund subsidies for intercollegiate sports. No taxpayer money is used by the University of Iowa. The plans are to be offered to the Regents by September.
Dannen believes there will be no immediate affect on UNI’s athletic programs.
“I’ve told the coaches that I don’t foresee a sport being impacted,” he said.
Dannen and UNI were well-aware a funding resolution was coming out of the March board meeting. Discussions have begun concerning how the school can raise additional revenue, ranging from an increase in student fees to adding another Football Bowl Subdivision opponent to the Panthers’ football schedule.
Dannen said that revenues from football and the men’s basketball team have increased.
“There are significant things we can do on the revenue-generating side, so maybe we won’t make a dollar-to-dollar transfer to student fees,” said Dannen. “Part of it is raising money. We have to do a better job of involving people in the Panther Scholarship Fund - a better job of generating more dollars.
“Everybody in the department realizes the serious nature of relying on state appropriations from the general fund. Sustaining those dollars will be in question. We know we need to get ourselves as much in a self-sustaining mode as possible.”
Two coaches on UNI’s staff say the school will make the necessary adjustments in funding when the time comes that money from the general fund is limited or not available.
“Especially being in a non-revenue sport, any time you hear news like that, you always worry a bit,” said UNI women’s tennis coach Sachin Kirtane regarding the Regent resolution. “But I think we have Troy Dannen doing a great job of having a plan in place in case something like happens.
“I’m pretty confident. We have such an athletic tradition. Athletics are a window to this university. I know with the run by men’s basketball and the amount of national media attention, people who have never heard of UNI are familiar with us now. So we have a great athletic department.”
Brad Penrith, the Panthers’ head wrestling coach, said the topic of funding doesn’t come up often in discussions with his student-athletes, although it can enter into recruiting. For the moment, he said, it’s business as usual.
“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing,” said Penrith. “I’m pretty sure this (resolution) isn’t going to affect my budget or affect me. We don’t have much. But we have an athletic director doing a great job of beating the bushes and raising money. I know he’ll continue to do that. We need that support from Panther Nation.”
New head track and field coach Dan Steele wasn’t certain what the funding future held for his men and women. He did say the problem of college athletics and money goes well beyond UNI.
“It’s common,” said Steele. “Universities and communities all over the country are facing very serious financial problems. As bad as it is in the state of Iowa, it’s much worse in some other places. I know California is having some problems. Arizona has in the past couple of years. Things are tough in Illinois. It’s not unique to this state.”
Of UNI’s $11.6 million athletic budget this fiscal year, roughly $4.6 million came from the general fund and financial aid. An additional $1.2 million came from student fees.
By Jim Sullivan
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier