A committee that planned to look at whether the University of Central Arkansas could save money by switching back from Division I to Division II has changed course, officials said Tuesday.
"We are not going to recommend or review any move back to Division II — that train has left the station," Brian Bolter, chairman of the committee investigating the UCA Athletic Department. "We’ve moved too far to go back."
The university received full NCAA Division I Active Membership in July 2010. The move was at least partially funded by money from other auxiliaries, such as food service and housing.
The investigative committee decided to change what it will review in the athletic department after its first meeting Friday, Bolter said during the Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday. Faculty President Kevin Browne said he hoped changing the "charge" of the committee would create greater objectivity.
"We are all after the same thing — the long-term good of the university," Browne said.
Academic faculty are upset about student fees and academic funding going to fund faculty bonuses and salary subsidies in the athletic department. Last month, faculty also learned about pay raises to some athletic department faculty paid for through private donations.
Faculty outside athletics have had one pay raise in the past five years.
Bolter said some faculty questioned using revenue, such as student fees outside of athletics, to support the athletic department. Issues the committee plans to review include money earned by some coaches from tutoring in the Academic Success Center at UCA, he said.
"The athletic department needs to be transparent," Bolter said.
Bolter said there were "lots of issues" for the committee to review and report on in the athletic department. Some athletic department faculty have salaries funded, in part, from areas such as admissions for their role in recruiting. Others are funded through the UCA Foundation, a private fundraising arm, Athletic Director Brad Teague said.
Teague did not attend the faculty senate meeting Tuesday.
Besides looking at how money is used in the department, Bolter said the committee will review benefits of being in Division I, including the athletic department’s role in recruitment and promoting the school.
The committee is taking questions from faculty and plans to submitted those to administrators for information, Bolter said.
Teague said his department’s budget is "above board" and that he "welcomed" the committee’s investigation.
"It’s still the same investigation," Teague said. "We are going to show every single number we have. Nothing has changed for us."
Teague said use of auxiliary funds to pay part of athletic department needs is not unusual and that his department has been reducing revenue transferred from academics.
For the first time, the athletic department did not use its maximum allotment for what the state allows to be transferred from the state educational and general fund. The department was under its $1.18 million max by $110,300, Teague said. It also completely withdrew from having coaches in the recreation center in the past three years and has reduced the number of coaches tutoring in the tutoring center by 80 percent, Teague said. Next year, no coaches will be manning the Academic Success Center, he said.
"We are trying to stand on our own," Teague said. "Our goal is to be totally stand-alone in terms of salary. We are doing the best we can."