UA athletics pledges $1 million to academics

You know what’s harder than finding a parking spot on the UA campus? Finding a press conference in the Student Union, that’s what. And that’s exactly why I was about 3 minutes late to today’s announcement that the UA athletics department has committed to give $1 million to support university academics during the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Of course, while everyone else from the media was nestled comfortably in their chairs to hear about it, I was frantically trying to find a room full of cameras and reporters in one of the largest buildings on campus. I should’ve paid more attention to the location but after spending 4 1/2 years going in and out of the Student Union, I figured I could wing it. After all, things haven’t changed that much in there.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with the following quote from Chancellor Gearhart, “This announcement gives me great pride.” So now I’m scrambling trying to figure out exactly what the announcement was when this one comes a few minutes later, “For the first time in 24 years there will be no tuition increase at the University of Arkansas, and for the first time in 45 years we will not have a major fee increase.” It was at this point in which I realized there was something going in terms of money and since I knew the conference was concerning athletics and academics, I assumed the sports side must’ve just given the books side a decent chunk of change. I was right.

With the partnerships the athletics department currently has in place, including the recent ESPN agreement that Jeff Long described today as, “the most lucrative in college sports history,” it’s clear there’s quite a bit of guaranteed money in the department’s future. It’s nice to know they’re spreading the wealth a little.

I don’t know how it is for those of you who didn’t attend the University of Arkansas but it was very clear when I was on campus that there was a distinct difference between the athletics department and academics side of things. If you didn’t wonder yourself why we had the largest football scoreboard in America but still lacked air conditioning in some of the classrooms, there was always someone to wonder for you … out loud.

Of course, if you really wanted to know, you’d find an answer in the fact that the athletics department is 100% self-supporting through its own endeavors and of course, donors. In other words, the simple truth of the matter is that people in this state like quarterbacks more than graduates. Even me. I have season tickets to basketball games but have somehow managed to not join the alumni association until 2 months ago. Why? Because three pointers are awesome, that’s why.

As far as where exactly the money is headed, that hasn’t quite been determined yet. “We have a number of areas of need, and the campus leadership will determine, as a group, where these funds will have the most impact,” said Chancellor Gearhart.

Our suggestion? Hows about officially adding a unicorn horn to the head of the Razorback? Regular hogs are so 1970s. A unihog, however, is totally Web 2.0.

For the full press release, visit