The Faculty Senate on Monday passed a resolution urging Chancellor Jan Simek to veto the Athletic Department’s plan to sell alcohol at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The resolution came after an April 18 article in the Knoxville News Sentinel reported the Athletic Department had requested a permit to sell alcohol during non-athletic events.
“The chancellor has been ... required to approve any alcoholic beverages available on this campus, and as far as I’m aware, there’s never been any sales to the public on this campus,” said senate past president Lou Gross. “The UT Athletic Department has proposed this strictly on the basis of their need for revenue. They did not in any way consider, as far as we can tell, the impact of this on the campus community with regard to ... those individuals on this campus staff and faculty, who have problems with alcohol abuse.”
Denise Barlow, Knoxville’s vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the chancellor was first made aware of a potential shortfall in the Athletic Department budget in a Feb. 27 meeting. Barlow said the chancellor participated in a follow up meeting March 4.
“At that meeting there were options for ways to fund the Athletic Department budget for the next year, and the chancellor ... selected the options that resulted in the users of the services bearing the costs of those services. (Alcohol sales are) one way to generate the revenue that was needed to fund the shortfall in the athletics budget.”
Thompson-Boling Arena is officially listed in the Knoxville campus inventory, meaning Simek would have the authority to prohibit alcohol sales if he chose. Barlow said Simek consulted with UT Police Chief August Washington in approving the option.
“We understand that we have a responsibility to our students, to the faculty, to the staff to have a safe environment and to have an environment that is healthy, so the decision was made,” she said.
Beauvais Lyons, art professor, expressed concerns that the athletics department hadn’t been taking any measures to curb its expenditures.
“In some ways, this is a hungry monster that you can’t satiate, and it’s continually looking for other forms of revenue to support what seems to be a rather extravagant lifestyle,” Lyons said.
Barlow noted that although the Athletics Department has cut its operating budgets by 5 percent in the past few years, coaches’ salaries have increased significantly in that same period.
“They have to recruit coaches. The market is unbelievable, the salaries that they have to pay when they recruit, just like you do when you’re trying to recruit star faculty,” Barlow said.
The Athletics Department has also increased the price of tickets and is charging students for tickets to football games.
College of Law Sen. Joan Heminway opposed the bill, citing that the senate’s main obligations are to faculty, student and academic issues.
“I see this as extending really far in our mandate, because we are reaching out to third party contracts with the university. What other terms do we monitor?” Heminway said. “At some point our mission gets too big and we run the risk of diluting what it is we are trying to do.”
The Athletics Department receives all net revenue from concessions sales in the arena.
Faculty Senate urges alcohol plan veto
Published: Wed Apr 23, 2008