Auxiliary Status of Athletics Sparks Debate


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"Auxiliary" may be just a word, but in a time of deep financial strain, the label carries big implications for the finances of UC Berkeley's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Controversy in recent months has focused on whether University of California policy regarding auxiliaries permits much of the ongoing financial support to the department, which totaled more than $13 million last fiscal year alone.

Many UC Berkeley officials have characterized the department as an auxiliary enterprise this year, but a fresh policy analysis indicates it may have been mistaken due to a lack of communication.

Campus officials, critics of campus officials and even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2010-11 budget have buttressed claims that intercollegiate athletics at UC Berkeley is an auxiliary enterprise. As UC spokesperson Steve Montiel said, "UC Berkeley's athletics department has pretty consistently been characterized as exclusively an auxiliary enterprise and subject to the financial standards of that type of function."

However, an April 22 policy analysis conducted by the UC Office of the President claims the department has in fact followed a "hybrid" financial model for years.

So have others, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof. Only now have campus officials recognized that "Parking, Residential and Student Services, University Health Services, Childcare Services, and the ASUC" also have characteristics of both an auxiliary enterprise and student service, he said in an e-mail.

BUS-72, a university policy implemented in 1981, defines auxiliary enterprises as "self-supporting activities which provide non-instructional support in the form of goods and services to students, faculty, and staff upon payment of a specific user charge or fee which is at least equal to the full direct and indirect cost of providing the goods and services."

But a hybrid model redefines the financial constraints on the department, allowing it to be less financially self-supporting and, in turn, rely on the campus for greater funding. The approach is not outlined in UC policy, but Mogulof said it is not explicitly prohibited.

"The Berkeley athletics department is not exclusively an auxiliary enterprise but substantially a student service," Montiel said. "Intercollegiate athletics at Berkeley include a major student service component, and the university's financial statements have reflected that dual function."

Campus financial records state the department has been seen as both an auxiliary enterprise and a student service in recent years.

Mogulof said the revelation that the department is not a pure auxiliary came from intensified scrutiny of campus finances in light of the state budget cuts.

According to the new analysis, BUS-72 was conceived without considering how it might apply to athletic programs. Current policy should be updated to state the "existence of hybrid programs," the analysis states.

But the analysis's conclusions are disputed by some of the eight faculty who authored a Nov. 5 resolution passed by the campus division of the Academic Senate, which urges the campus to end financial support to the department.

"Any PR statement along these lines is backpedaling," said Alice Agogino, a co-author of the resolution and professor of mechanical engineering, who said "there is no question" that the department is an auxiliary.

Mogulof said in an e-mail that a new financial system implemented in 2001 spawned the hybrid approach. The new system better records the activities of the department, which does not meet the university definition of an auxiliary, he said.

"There is no policy that would prohibit any of the UC campuses from treating programs as a student service/auxiliary enterprise hybrid," he said in the e-mail.

Brian Barsky, a co-author of the resolution and professor of computer science, said in an e-mail that operating intercollegiate athletics under a hybrid model conflicts with previous university statements, which he said preclude any sort of financial assistance from the central campus to the unit.

"(The analysis) discloses the actual accounting practice has violated existing policy," he said in an e-mail. "It treats this violation as if it were the policy even though it was never discussed and approved.

Calvin Moore, chair of a senate task force charged with recommending a financially sustainable model for the department, said its status as an auxiliary has been "foggy."

"That's not an issue that has particularly concerned (the task force)," he said. "I had always assumed since it was receiving campus support ... that it was appropriate."


Zach E. J. Williams is the university news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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