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MailTribune.com
  • Oregon colleges frustrated by budget proposal

    SOU, OIT, EOU would be hit hardest by potential loss of lottery funds
  • Reaction to Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed 2013-15 budget have been swift, especially from college presidents, athletic directors, coaches and others over a single line on Page B-7 of the proposal.
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  • Reaction to Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed 2013-15 budget have been swift, especially from college presidents, athletic directors, coaches and others over a single line on Page B-7 of the proposal.
    Oregonian writer Paul Buker uncovered the line, and he cited several individuals from the state's five smaller universities about the dire situation that results if the proposal is accepted.
    "The distribution of lottery proceeds to the Oregon University System in support of intercollegiate athletics and scholarships is discontinued," the line reads. "The funds are re-directed for other programs in the education outcome area."
    Oregon Tech would be affected by the change more than any of the state's seven universities.
    Athletic director Mike Schell told Buker OIT would lose 14.5 percent of its approximately $2 million budget if the proposal succeeds, which likely would result in the loss of at least two intercollegiate sports.
    Eastern and Southern Oregon both would lose more than 11 percent of their athletic budgets, and Western Oregon would lose more than nine percent.
    SOU athletic director Matt Sayre told Buker the loss of lottery funds would "crush" the school's athletic programs, and said the money is a necessary lifeline.
    Oregon and Oregon State, meanwhile, would lose less than two percent of their budgets. Portland State's loss would be less than six percent.
    "The governor's plan provides no alternatives to replace funding and keep these programs from being slashed, denying opportunities to well-deserving young men and women," Pacific University sports information director Blake Timm said.
    "I know some will say that athletics should be the first cut in hard, economic times, but it is things like sports, music, drama and the arts that keep kids in both high schools and colleges," he said in his Facebook post.
    Studies show, Timm noted, that sports and other activities contribute to well-rounded individuals who perform better in school and in life than the general student body.
    Unlike the big schools, the state's small schools have limited access to funds.
    "For us, and I guess all of the regionals, it's going to be a pretty huge impact," Schell told Buker. "We just don't have a lot of revenue streams like (Oregon and Oregon State). We're not going to raise that money, not consistently every year."
    OIT, SOU and EOU all will have received $290,670 in 2012, while Western will get $371,039. Both Oregon and Oregon State receive close to $1 million.
    Ben Cannon, the governor's education policy adviser, told Buker there was no intention to devastate sports programs at the state's regional colleges with two sentences in an $8 billion budget. He said reality dictates that lottery money go elsewhere in the future.
    "This is not meant to be a signal from the governor's office that we intend to, or prefer to, end athletic opportunities for the regionals, which would clearly be most impacted by losing this dedicated source of funding," Cannon told Buker.
    "We do think athletics should compete for funding alongside the other missions and other functions of the university, including academics and research."
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