Athletics makes case for new facility
by Andrew Shurtleff
Keith Jenifer glides past a Long Island University opponent
in a recent match-up between the two teams.
By Dan Heuchert
budgets. Crumbling buildings. Travel restrictions. Larger classes.
No raises (again). And then to see plans for a shiny new basketball
by Jim Carpenter
Littlepage, director of athletics
makes some faculty members want to scream. Or at least to pass
a resolution asking the University to cease and desist, as was
proposed at a rare Assembly of Professors in October. Though the
resolution was tabled, at least partly at the behest of University
T. Casteen III, the message was clear: Some professors are displeased
with the prospect of spending $128 million on a new arena in these
Littlepage wants faculty and staff to know that he understands
faculty are operating in this environment of being expected to
do more with less, and in some cases doing it in facilities that
are deficient much like University Hall is deficient
certainly, they look at the building of an athletic facility from
a somewhat perplexed attitude, said Littlepage, U.Va.s
director of athletics.
of the resentment toward the arena project, he said, appears to
be based on a misconception of how athletics are financed at the
University. As an auxiliary enterprise, the Department
of Athletics receives no state funds for either its operating
or capital budgets, and must generate its own revenue. Thus, the
arena does not cannot compete with academic facilities
or faculty and staff salaries for either state funds or tuition
the athletics departments $33 million operating budget is
funded through a variety of other sources. For the fiscal year
that ended June 30, the largest revenue source was distributions
from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (mostly television
rights fees for the NCAA mens basketball tournament) and
the Atlantic Coast Conference (TV rights fees and a share of football
major revenue sources included private fund-raising support, ticket
sales, a portion of student activities fees (funding intramural
sports and students free admission to athletic contests)
and corporate sponsorships.
fact, the athletics department feeds funds into the academic side.
Its second-largest expense, after salaries, is scholarships for
student-athletes more than $6.3 million in tuition paid
to the University. Athletics also pays more than $1.1 million
to the University for overhead. In the past, the department has
made one-time contributions from football bowl-game payouts that
were used to establish the Cavalier Distinguished Teaching Professorship,
install the ISIS telephone course-registration system, equip computer
labs, and, in a similar economic crisis, to sustain the librarys
sports, football and mens basketball, generate enough money
to support the other 23 (including womens golf, which begins
play next fall). Expanding the football stadium and adding 56
luxury suites helped athletics finish in the black last year after
a string of small deficits eroded reserves, an accomplishment
of which Littlepage is particularly proud.
to the competition, were under-funded, he said, pointing
out that many schools offer fewer sports and have larger budgets.
The success that we had coming in under budget with the
number of sports we have shows resourcefulness on the part of
new basketball arena is expected to boost the bottom line. Season
tickets to mens basketball games in University Hall are
perennially sold out, so additional seats should bring in more
revenue, even if they are not filled for every game. More important,
luxury suites and other premium seating, not available in U-Hall,
should add new revenue streams.
Littlepage emphasized that there is more than monetary justification
for the arena.
Hall opened in 1965 and has not been substantially modified since.
At 8,394 seats, it is the smallest in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
There are insufficient concessions, restrooms, practice space
and office space. There is no air conditioning.
about this building
is deficient in terms of what we as
a University and this region need, and obviously what our basketball
programs need, Littlepage said, noting that every other
ACC school has upgraded its basketball facilities within the last
U-Hall is not financially or architecturally feasible, he said.
He foresees the replacement arena as a versatile building, capable
of holding large crowds for speakers, concerts, graduations (in
case of rain) and other major events.
studies professor Harry Gamble, who introduced the stop-the-arena
resolution at Octobers Assembly of Professors, acknowledges
U-Halls inadequacy. Given the state of U-Hall, and
given the competition against which the University wants to succeed
in its basketball programs, they have certainly justified the
need for a new arena in the abstract, he said.
Gamble questions the timing of the major fund-raising effort needed
to finance construction, which comes even as our academic
buildings fall down around our ears. He fears that benefactors
will divert money from giving for academic purposes toward the
University needs to prioritize those needs in a way that is consonant
with our overall mission, he said.
D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development
and public affairs, sharply disagrees with the diverted-dollars
theory. Of the 25,000 people who gave gifts or pledges of $1,000
or more to the recently concluded capital campaign, only about
1,000, or 4 percent, gave to the stadium expansion, he noted.
Many of the Universitys largest athletic benefactors
among them, the late David A. Harrison III, William F. Goodwin,
Thomas A. Saunders and Paul Tudor Jones have given significantly,
if not more generously, to academics.
not a zero-sum game, Sweeney said. These are additional
gifts being made by many people. I dont know of a single
instance where the issue was either give to athletics or something
Giving on the athletics side, at least from the major
donors whom I have known, is given out of another pocket somehow.
is a tool that can be used to foster giving in other areas of
the University, Sweeney said. Many donors began their giving relationships
with the University by making donations to the Virginia Student
Aid Foundation recently broadened in scope and renamed
the Virginia Athletics
Foundation in order to secure tickets to football and
basketball games, and later expanded the scope of their giving
to include other areas of the University, Sweeney said.
arena project is only one of several big-ticket items on the fund-raising
agenda, he said. We are just as aggressively pursuing these
other projects, including about $200 million for the Arts
Grounds project, at least $142 million for the South Lawn Project,
and a major initiative to build a top-five cancer center, projected
to cost another $200 million.
if there is less competition for resources between academics and
athletics than many faculty believe, why does something like a
new arena or a stadium expansion arouse such hostility among some
elements of the faculty?
Callahan has feet planted in both sides of the issue. As a professor
in the Curry School
of Education, she experiences firsthand the budget privations
being felt by faculty members. She also serves on the athletics
advisory council and is U.Va.s faculty representative to
the NCAA, and serves as the formal liaison between the faculty
and the athletics department.
think fundamentally it doesnt matter to faculty how its
funded, she said. There are perception issues that
are strong and deeply felt.
Even when I do explain [athletic
needs] to them, they have a really hard time accepting that Im
telling the truth.
has not done a good job of communicating with faculty members,
she said, noting that before she joined the athletics advisory
council, she had little knowledge of the departments structure
and financial picture. I think the whole athletic department
is a big secret to the rest of the University, she said.
describing himself as enthusiastic about intercollegiate
sports, Gamble sees the arena and the stadium expansion
before it as symbolically important.
whole issue projects to the public, as well as to the University
itself, an image of what the University aspires to be. It looks
as if the University aspires more to athletic success than to
are athletic and academic success necessarily competing priorities?
Some evidence suggests not. The five top-ranked public schools
in the most recent U.S. News & World Report survey
UC Berkeley, Virginia, UCLA, Michigan and North Carolina
all appeared in the top 30 of the standings in the race for the
2001-02 Sears Cup, awarded to the school with the best overall
finishes in the various NCAA sports championships. Sears Cup winner
Stanford tied for fourth in the overall U.S. News rankings.
goal would be, how do we create excellence in academics and athletics
and ethics and all of those things? Sweeney said. We
ought to be looking at being among the best not winning
every championship, but being seen as extraordinarily competitive,
probably in the top 10 of the Sears Cup, while at the same time
being in the black, having a strong value system and having major
access for both men and women.
athletic department recently commissioned a public relations and
marketing survey of several constituent groups, including faculty,
students, alumni, donors, student-athletes, coaches and business
leaders. Virtually all of the groups viewed the University as
having struck an appropriate balance between athletics and academics.
They all strongly cautioned the University against the appearance
of having sold out its values in pursuit of athletic success.
received, Littlepage said. The one thing that we heard as
a common theme over and over again is it wouldnt be worth
it to pursue excellence, to try to win in a national context,
if our students werent graduating, if our students werent
doing their job as members of the University community, if we
were breaking rules, our coaches and others. Winning is important
and being successful is important, but also doing it the right
way is even more important.