Penn State Athletics released its long-awaited Facilities Master Plan yesterday, outlining construction or renovation of more than 20 athletic facilities on campus during the next 20 years. Though many logistical aspects of the Plan remain vague, funding was a concern for many students.
A press release from Athletics specified financing for the projects could include “sources such as philanthropy, ICA operational revenues to support debt, corporate partnerships and the possibility of public-private partnerships or student support, where appropriate.” At a public presentation of the plan Monday afternoon, Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour clarified student fee support would only be appropriate for facilities open to all students — the proposed indoor tennis facility and natatorium.
UPUA President and Student Fee Board Chair Terry Ford said Barbour presented details of the plan to the Student Fee Board on February 14 to discuss the possibility of student fee dollars to help fund these two facilities.
“There is currently no [Intercollegiate Athletics] request for student fee dollars to finance the renovation or construction of facilities within the Master Plan,” Ford said. “Previous conversations years ago between ICA and the now nonexistent Facility Fee Advisory Committee included a proposal from ICA to use $30 million in student Facility Fee dollars to support the renovation of the two buildings, but those plans were never finalized and that proposal has not yet been resubmitted, either in its original or in an amended format, to the new University Park Student Fee Board.”
To receive student fee funding, Athletics must present a proposal to the Student Fee Board to request a specific amount. As we’ve seen so far with the Board, it could then change the amount as it sees fit and would eventually vote yes or no on the allocation of student fee dollars for this purpose.
“All of us on the Board have an obligation to steward the resources of our fellow students effectively and appropriately, which means finding a healthy balance between delivering value in the form of great campus facilities, for instance, and cost savings,” Ford said. “I’m optimistic that we or our successors on the UP SFB will be able to work with ICA and Campus Recreation in a way that produces a feasible and responsible plan of action.”