Faculty criticize Diddle fee

Mai Hoang

All new things come at a cost.

With a newly renovated Diddle Arena, the athletics department has some debt and is looking for a way to pay it off.

But some on the university’s academic side are questioning a recent move that may end up bringing dollars out of their pockets.

To help Western pay its $32 million in bonds back to the city of Bowling Green, athletics will begin charging a fee to any group seeking to rent Diddle for their special events.

That includes academic departments and campus groups. Campus groups currently do not have to pay rental fees to use other campus venues.

Under the new plan, campus groups and academic departments will pay $500, plus expenses, to rent out the arena for an event. If the event is a concert, that cost goes up to $1,500.

Athletics games and events are not charged except for audio visual equipment.

The plan has left some on the academics side calling foul.

Provost Barbara Burch said she doesn’t object to the athletics department trying to generate revenue, but Diddle Arena is a university building and academics should not be charged for events.

“The problem is that most of the academic units do not have any money to pay for rental or to set up the facility,” she said.

David Lee, dean of the Potter College of Arts and Sciences, said the deans question if its appropriate for one university community like athletics to charge for another.

“Academic operating budgets have been stagnant for a very long time,” he said. “Our ability to absorb new expenses on the operating side is not really great.”

He said it is unlikely Potter College would rent out the arena because it has other venues to use – but he’s not closed to the idea.

Special Events director Jeff Younglove, said the rental fee is necessary.

“We’re not trying to make any money out of the internal or campus group,” he said. “We’re just trying cover expenses.”

Assistant athletic director Craig Biggs said the fee structure is similar to that of other arenas of similar size.

Athletics looked into how Middle Tennessee State and Murray State rent out their arenas to both external and internal groups, he said.

“We did a lot of homework on other situations to us to come up with this structure,” he said.

Biggs said it would not make sense for athletic events to pay a facility fee because they would be paying themselves.

The rental fee is supposed to make up a $70,000 line item in the athletics budget, he said. If that amount is not generated, then athletic department is responsible for the difference.

Younglove said that he hopes a majority of the money made will be from groups outside Western.

President Gary Ransdell said he wants to examine what events that academic departments and on-campus groups would have to pay for.

“I just want to be sure that any charges for use of any campus facility is reasonable and valid,” Ransdell said.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]