SBD/April 4, 2013/Colleges

Maryland Lawmakers Skeptical About Proposal To Fund Towson Baseball Team

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to "allocate $300,000 in taxpayer money to save Towson University's baseball team came under fire Wednesday from some legislators and key fiscal policymakers for being unprecedented and unfair to other college sports programs," according to Yvonne Wenger of the Baltimore SUN. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said the money is a "bailout" that rewards bad financial decisions by a university. He said, "With all due respect to the governor, I am not sure that it's his role to say baseball lives and soccer dies. That strikes me as arbitrary. I hope that both programs are immediately reinstalled." But Franchot added, "Using taxpayer dollars for college athletic programs opens up a can of worms, which is all public universities asking for help with their athletic programs. It's not good fiscal policy." Wenger notes whether the funding is "approved is up to the General Assembly, which is in final budget deliberations." The governor also indicated that he "would include another $300,000 in the 2015 budget for the baseball team on the condition that the program is self-sufficient within two years." Among the state Senate Budget & Taxation Committee's considerations is "a recommendation by legislative budget analysts that if the state agrees to provide money, it come in the form of a loan" (Baltimore SUN, 4/4). Asked if money could be found to save Towson's men's soccer program as well, Franchot said, "Absolutely. Obviously a big mistake was made getting rid of these two great programs that have been around for decades." He added, "Towson should admit they made a mistake and put the baseball and soccer programs back in place without any probation, and fix the fiscal problems in the athletic program. Obviously there are concerns there, but it's not the fault of the baseball and soccer kids" (Baltimore SUN, 4/4).

REBEL YELL: Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork said that the school's Forward Together fundraising campaign stands at $81M in "pledges and cash." That number a year ago was $62M. Bjork said, "We've gained some momentum. We've got a lot of good gifts that have come in. Just in the past couple of weeks we had two $250,000 gifts." He said there are significant discussions in "the pipeline" for more gifts. Bjork: "Seven-figure type gifts. Now it's our job to close on those gifts." In Memphis, Kyle Veazey noted a new basketball arena is "part of the fundraising campaign," but it is "yet unclear what the arena will cost." Meanwhile, Bjork said that football season-ticket sales are "well above last year's pace" (COMMERCIALAPPEAL.com, 4/3).
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