Proposed budget cuts would affect athletics

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

With Gov. Bruce Rauner’s $387 million proposed budget cut to higher education—roughly $44 million affecting SIU’s Carbondale campus—all departments on campus have to plan for cuts, including athletics.

“If we end up doing budget cuts to the level that would be demanded by the governor’s proposed budget, Saluki Athletics will not be able to escape those budget cuts,” SIU President Randy Dunn said. “They’ll have to take their share along with every other unit on campus.”

Dunn said the administrators are asking departments to put a plan together before the severity of the cuts are determined.


“We can’t just sit on our hands until the end of the spring legislative session and simply hope nothing will happen to us,” Dunn said.

Interim Athletic Director Harold Bardo said he will not make any decisions regarding athletics, and will let the new athletic director make them.

Bardo said the department has not talked about the possibility of cutting any sports program.

“You don’t gain a lot by cutting an individual sports program,” he said.

Bardo said the athletic department would have to determine how much money would be cut and then look at each respective program.

He used the example of a basketball game at SIU Arena having electricians, concession workers, custodians, etc. to pay. He said it would have to see if it could trim some of the personnel, while still delivering the sport.

“Fans, I don’t think appreciate how much work goes into putting on a contest,” Bardo said. “There are numbers of people that have to be involved in it. You’ve got to do a myriad of things before the kids can go on the court and play basketball.”


The budget cut would affect all public state universities and their respected athletic programs. However, Bardo said it affects mid-major Division I programs more than larger schools, such as the University of Illinois, because they have more revenue from broadcasting deals.

“[U of I] gets $24 million a year from the ESPN contract,” he said. “They get $27 million a year from the BIG 10 contract. A cut to them doesn’t mean a heck of a lot, a cut to us is going to be devastating.”

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256.