New UMD AAUP Financial Analysis Reveals Tuition Fees Keep Athletics Profitable

A new analysis of University of Maryland finances shows its athletics program would have run into a multimillion-dollar deficit each year from 2013 through 2020 if mandatory tuition had not been factored into revenue from the program.

This university’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers commissioned the 123-page financial analysis earlier this year, which breaks down the university’s tuition and hiring practices and budget. The AAUP chapter entrusted the analysis to Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor at Eastern Michigan University, known for his expertise in assessing the financial health of colleges and universities.

Holly Brewer, a history professor and president of that university’s AAUP chapter, said the organization commissioned the analysis to better understand why more community members are dissatisfied with the path the university is taking.

Matthew Miller, the head of AAUP’s finance committee, said he was shocked that the $399 and $133 athletics fees that undergraduate and graduate students pay, respectively, are preventing the program from to come out of the red.

“It’s money they’re taking out of the pockets of parents, out of the pockets of students paying for college, out of the pockets of graduate students,” said Miller, also an assistant professor of Persian literature and digital humanities. at this university.

In an interview with The Diamondback, the university’s president, Darryll Pines, called student athletic fees a history of that university since they were at the Atlantic Coast Conference and said that the fees are clearly stated when prospective students apply.

The analysis also shows that “direct institutional support” – university money – also helps athletics erase its deficits. In addition to this, according to the analysis, the university counts tuition and direct institutional support as athletics revenue, despite the fact that the athletics program does not directly generate money in those categories.

Pines said counting fees and direct support as athletics revenue is a matter of “simple transparency.”

“There’s nothing wrong with reporting sports expenses as part of income, which there is, and it’s nothing secret,” Pines said.

Bunsis, who authored the analysis, compared this university to other institutions in the Big Ten, many of which do not charge athletic fees to their students.

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“Do you know how much college students cost in Ohio State? Zero. Do you know how much it costs to study in Michigan? Zero,” Bunsis said during the AAUP’s presentation of the analysis on Friday. “[Other Big Ten schools] generate enough other income to cover athletics.

According to the analysis, Ohio State University’s sports ticket sales were more than four times that university’s ticket sales in 2020, and University of Michigan’s 2020 ticket sales were almost four times. times higher.

In addition to covering the university’s athletics program, AAUP’s analysis also looked at how this university hired more nontenured faculty instead of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

This leaves a growing number of professors with less job security, according to Karin Rosembatt, vice president of AAUP.

“[Non-tenure track faculty] can be fired for almost any reason,” Rosembatt said. “According to the most recent guidelines, a reason is supposed to be given. But the reason could be: “We are no longer interested in the courses you teach”, or “Our priorities have changed” or “We have no money”. And usually, ‘We don’t have any money’ is a common reason.

Campus-wide, the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty has decreased by nearly 7% since 2014, while non-tenured faculty have increased by nearly 20%.

The number of certified teaching assistants has also increased steadily since 2014.

The university is shifting its teaching load to graduate assistants, Sam DiBella, a doctoral student in information studies, said at a news conference Monday about the AAUP analysis.

“We are routinely treated by the university with a sense of paternalism,” DiBella said. “They count on us while telling us that we don’t deserve a living wage.”

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These hiring trends have particularly hurt that university’s history department, according to Brewer.

The history department has lost 10 full and tenured professors over the past 10 years, Brewer said at the news conference, leaving entire department topics uncovered.

Hiring of faculty has also not kept up with enrollment of students, according to the analysis. Since 2014, total enrollment has increased by approximately 11%, with faculty positions increasing by only 3.1% over the same period.

According to the analysis, this university has more than $700 million in unrestricted funds — money not restricted by donors. Rosembatt and Todd Holden, the president of AFSCME Local 1072 — the union that represents workers on that campus — said the university could use those funds more proactively. Rosembatt said some of that money could be used to more adequately fund that university’s libraries, and Holden proposed that unrestricted funds could pay for essential workplace items, such as uniforms and materials. .

AAUP leaders and AFSCME Local 1072 leaders are also concerned about how the number of management employees has increased since 2015, while the number of librarians, service employees and cleaners has declined, according to the report.

Between 2015 and 2019, management positions increased by 42.4%. Librarians and other library staff fell by more than six percent over the same period. This trend only accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic, as libraries lost more than 10% of their employees, while leadership positions increased.

In a statement provided to The Diamondback, the university said it would review the “merit and accuracy” of the analysis.

“Our budget priorities are aligned with our recently released strategic plan. In the plan, we declare our investments in teaching and learning, research, the arts, and most importantly, our people and our communities. It is a plan that puts people, impact, diversity and service to humanity first,” the university said.

But Miller said the findings of the analysis are at odds with the university’s strategic plan goal of investing in “the ability of faculty, students, staff, alumni and partners to meet great challenges.” challenges”.

“It’s not reflected in their spending,” Miller said. “Honestly, that doesn’t make you feel good as an employee because it tells you how much they appreciate you.”

Sarah J. Greer