The University of Kentucky Athletic Association Board has approved an annual budget of 83.6 million dollars for the next fiscal year. That's four million dollars more than last year's spending plan. Despite the increase, Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart says there are no plans to give back any additional money to the university for non-athletic scholarships.
"I think our contributions are significant. We've been doing 1.7 million dollars a year for about seven years now. So when you consider the other million I'd say we've contributed between 12 and 15 million over the last few years. That's a brand new facility for us if you want to look at it in those terms."
Faculty and staff had recently claimed the 1.7 million dollars per year was not enough. The issue came to a head when the athletic department asked the board of trustees for a loan to help pay for new scoreboards at Commonwealth Stadium. It later rescinded that request.
Barnhart says the department will now spend 1.65 million of its own money to pay for the project.
"Ten years ago those scoreboards were state of the art. Technology changes very quickly, and if you continue to change every year, you've got a massive expense. Clearly, we wanted to get as much out of those boards as possible. The challenge is also, that there are no parts to replace those boards if they go bad."
UKAA officials say the 83.6 million dollar spending plan puts the university on a par with the University of Georgia. Five other SEC schools, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida have annual operating budgets in excess of 90 million dollars.