Are We Heading to a Self-Sustaining Culture?

What stays and what goes? That is the question as Fiscal Year 2012 arrives on July 1, 2011.

Budget cuts. 

No one likes them.  No one wants to be the one to swing the ax.  Reality-wise, regardless of opinion and perspective, it’s a business decision that affects a lot of people.  Public broadcasting, preschool, and various other programs are being scrutinized and debated.  Should they continue to be supported by the “taxpayers” (government), be eliminated, or, be self-sustaining? 

Waaa…? (Yes, I said Waaa, as in “what?”)

Self-sustaining.  It feels like we’re heading towards a culture where if we want to keep something, then we have to find a way to keep it and to operate it on our own. 

College athletic programs are on the verge of doing that, sooner if not later.  Over the past year, the Iowa Board of Regents sent a directive to the three state schools that they will be self-sustaining entities and not rely on state funding.  What does that mean?  It means that the next time an athlete gets into trouble, the taxpayers can’t bitch about paying for his or her scholarship, because our money isn’t going to fund the sports programs. 

If UNI athletics get cut off from state support, will it survive in Division I-A or drop down to I-AA?

For UNI, they are not in a position to be self-sustaining, as President Ben Allen told the BOR last fall.  UNI is not Iowa or Iowa State (though ISU is ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 when it comes to athletic funding and resources).  If the Panthers are unable to establish their athletic program as a separate entity, they could move down to Division 1-AA, or at worst, Division II. 

In fact, remember the mass hysteria that Texas caused last year when they threatened to leave the Big 12?  If you weren’t paying attention since the end of the football season, Texas now has their own television network, the lion’s share of the overall Big 12 television profits, and could end up being the first Division 1-A school to be the first real self-sufficient athletic program and not be dependent on the University of Texas as a school and the Texas university system. 

Why am I bringing up Texas and self-sustainment?  Because it’s evident and likely that if we want to keep some of the non-sports programs like preschool or public broadcasting, we may have to pay more for it or lose it, unless there’s another way to keep it going.

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