Transfers to athletics of unrestricted education and general funds have increased an average of 49.3% statewide in the last five years and 19.1% over the last two years, according to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Among the state’s 10 four-year universities and three two-year-colleges with athletic programs, $13.156 million was transferred to athletics in 2016. Most, $12.878 million was by the four-year schools.
Overall funding for higher education has been flat for six years, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday, and has not been increased across the board for 20 years.
Among the percentage growth leaders were the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, which increased the transfers 170.6% from $949,859 in 2011 to $2.57 million in 2016; and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, which has seen a 151.6% increase from $1.142 million in 2011 to $2.875 million in 2016. Most of ASU’s increase, 132.7%, occurred in fiscal year 2016.
The University of Arkansas had no transfers during that time period. Neither did the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
The information was first disclosed in a meeting of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Friday (Oct. 28). The 12-member board is appointed by the governor and coordinates higher education in Arkansas.
The largest percentage increase, 186.8%, occurred at Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, which began its athletic program in 2011-12. It transferred $22,654 in 2012 and $64,979 in 2016. Two institutions saw decreases – the University of Central Arkansas, which saw a 12.5% decrease, and North Arkansas College, which saw a 27.6% decrease.
Meanwhile, student athletic fee revenues have increased 15.5% over that time, with ASU-Jonesboro leading the way with a 73.4% increase from $2.899 million in 2011 to $5.027 million in 2016. Southern Arkansas University saw a 56.4% increase, from $1.076 million in 2011 to $1.683 million in 2016.
Five universities saw decreases in student athletic fees: the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (10.8%); the University of Arkansas at Monticello (10.6%); UAFS (3.1%); UALR (5.4%); and UCA (2.5%).
Student fees per credit hour have increased an average of 19.3% and have increased at all four-year schools except the University of Arkansas, which does not charge an athletic fee, and UAM, which did not increase its fee of $13, the state’s second lowest. At $20, UALR has the highest student athletic fee.