Track team facing drastic cuts while WKU coaches, AD gain new incentives with contracts

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Herald Staff

Money well spent?

The issue: With the looming cuts to WKU’s budget, many programs could be affected, one of which is the track and field team. These budget cuts are being brought on at the same time that Athletic Director Todd Stewart could get large contract incentives and football Head Coach Jeff Brohm will be receiving a raise.

Our stance: If the budget situation is so dire that programs are being cut as drastically as 50 percent, then there is a better way to be spending the raise and incentive money.

With the approval of the two-year state budget, Kentucky universities will see a cut of 4.5 percent to their state-appropriated funding. For WKU, this means a $3.4 million decrease to WKU’s yearly operating budget. Because the new budget needs to be finalized by June 30, decisions are already being made about where money will be cut.

Last week, the Herald reported that the track and field team’s budget could be cut by up to 50 percent for the coming year. If the cut ends up being that big, it could be devastating to the team. Currently track and field has the third highest budget of athletic teams at $1.8 million.

Also last week, the Board of Regents voted to approve new contracts and addendums for Stewart, Brohm and new men’s basketball Head Coach Rick Stansbury with multiple incentives.

The Herald reported Thursday that this would make Brohm’s base salary $800,000 for 2016-2017 in addition to at least $325,000 in possible incentives. Stansbury’s starting base salary is $500,000 in addition to incentives and a university-provided vehicle. Stewart’s contract addendum includes possible incentives that could total about $210,000.

These addendums come after WKU spent about $9.46 million in 2015 on coaching and staff — the most in the school’s history according to a report from USA Today Sports.

While the raise in Brohm’s annual salary and the incentives that both Stewart and Brohm could potentially receive are coming from private funds raised by the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation, the approval is in poor taste.

If the budget situation is so dire that funding for track and field and possibly other programs could face cuts as high as 50 percent, coaches shouldn’t be taking raises. There could be better uses for the money raised by the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation.

The foundation’s webpage on the WKU sports website states, “Contributions to the HAF serve as an investment in the future of WKU Athletics as we continue to build on our winning Red Towel Tradition.” Since this is the case, shouldn’t the money raised by the foundation be used to support programs that are facing major financial setbacks rather than paying for raises and incentives for the coaches of the most popular teams?

The track and field teams are extremely successful. The program has seen 39 of its athletes named NCAA All-Americans since 2011. Furthermore, Head Coach Erik Jenkins was named C-USA Coach of the Year for two consecutive seasons. These teams are doing very well, and the foundation should be giving them as much support as the football and basketball programs.