It’s hard not to be a little suspicious about the Geneva land purchase.
No, it’s definitely not because there’s a man somewhere behind a curtain twirling his mustache while plotting world domination. And it’s not unreasonable to think that the campus Powers That Be have only the best intentions extending farther into the future than we can currently see.
But there just seems to be something strange about spending $5 million on property – and for intramurals, no less – in the middle of a wave of budget cuts.
As reported in this issue’s news section, UVU is currently awaiting approval from the Board of Regents to purchase 100 acres of land east of Utah Lake for the intramural sports program. The $20 million value will be halved with a donation from Anderson Geneva, then another $5 million from Vineyard – leaving $5 million to UVU and private donors. The land will then be turned into fields for rugby, soccer and other intramural sports. Although not immediately likely, it’s plausible that someday there could be space for a football team.
The school in general does, however, seem to be in the middle of some hard financial times. Each department is going through some of the biggest budget cuts yet, some student jobs may suffer, tuition has just gone up and the entire school is under a hiring freeze. So the critical question is, where is the money coming from?
Some of it will come from private donors and some will come from the athletics department. Some of it may even come from a loan from the UVU Foundation. If some of the money is coming from athletics, then some of it is coming from students because student fees fund athletics, and hence most of the intramural programs. Student fees may not help pay for the Geneva purchase, but if they are, shouldn’t students know?
Intramurals are not necessarily an unworthy reason for using student fees and a loan. But when we can’t even hire faculty (never mind adequately paying current faculty), one must ask: Why now? And why intramurals when, as stated by Sr. Associate Athletic Director D. J. Smith, we have enough trouble getting students to attend basketball and baseball games?
Construction is cheap during this recession, and that may be one reason for seizing the opportunity now. But perhaps it’s possible there is a long-term benefit to the land that extends beyond the current request for expanding the intramurals program – potential student housing, for example, or another satellite campus extension.
All of this is still unknown, and it may take some time before we learn anything official; the purchase isn’t set in stone until the Board of Regents gives the stamp of approval. Despite rumors of a possible stadium, students will have to prove they are appreciative of more intramurals space before anyone can start thinking about a football team.
But what’s important for the school requires hindsight. Only time will tell if these ideas were good ones to bank on in the middle of struggling with other institutional finances, but at the same time: taking advantage of a good opportunity typically can’t hurt – and students would do well to pay more attention to the current sports programs before getting too ambitious over a football team.
Additional reporting by Gladis Higginbotham.