Syracuse University is operating with a $400M debt and spent $13M more than it brought in last year. So given that reality, you can imagine that there are some in the school with concerns over the athletics department, which spends the most and has created, according to a source in Chris Carlson's piece today, "the most controversial subject on campus."
Academics vs. Athletic budget concerns are nothing new, plenty of schools go through the pains and side-eyed glances. But with SU Athletics forking over a ton of money to leave the Big East and asking other school departments to help pay for it while also raking in $18M more in profits from the ACC than they would have otherwise gotten, that seems to have opened the floodgates here at SU.
The budgetary issue has apparently become one of Kent Syverdud's main points of focus since taking over as Chancellor.
"I believe the current budget philosophy and rules university-wide is overly complex and hard to understand." Syverud said via e-mail. "I think a lack of simplicity and understanding can create tensions and mistrust in many places. That is something I want to change. I also believe athletics is an important part of the university and one of the many things that makes Syracuse special."
What it comes down to, as far as I can tell, is that non-athletics departments don't want to chip in to help out DOC Gross and the athletics department on costs that they should be able to handle themselves. And if athletics is reporting that they can't or aren't making enough money, that's probably "accounting cuteness" more than it is reality.
I remember when I was at SU to promote my book, I learned very quickly that the school is not one entity but a series of competing entities housed under one name. I thought it was extremely strange that, for example, the athletics department was in competition with the SU bookstore, instead of the two being operated from one place of focus. It doesn't really seem like the smartest strategy and one that is usually certain to end in acrimony, like now.
Growing up, I used to hear about this kind of stuff all the time at Rutgers. There was a strong academic push to severely limit or even do away with RU athletics, which wasn't worth the money the school was putting into it. While I can agree with that on a philosophical level, just look at how things turned out. Now, because of Rutgers Athletics, the school is going to receive a windfall of Big Ten cash, just like SU is getting from the ACC.
Not saying that solves all of the problems, but if I've learned anything, it's that if you can bring in more money, you're going to get to do what you want.