LAWRENCE — The pace of giving to University of Kansas' athletics has increased more dramatically than giving to academics.
Since the year ending June 30, 2000, annual giving to KU Athletics has increased more than 300 percent, from $7.5 million to $31.3 million, in the year ending June 30, the most recent figures available.
With state budget cuts possible again for higher education, athletics programs and facilities continue to prosper, with $7.8 million in improvements to Allen Fieldhouse recently unveiled in time for basketball season.
The $23.8 million increase in athletic giving comes as giving to nonathletic causes increased by $29.3 million — a more modest 64 percent.
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KU has experienced a higher level of success in high-profile sports in the past decade, culminating in a recent Orange Bowl victory for the football program and a national championship for the men's basketball team.
Also, athletic director Lew Perkins, who arrived in June 2003, has instituted programs designed to increase the level of giving, including a new priority points system for allocating tickets and seats.
Overall giving to the university went from $53.3 million in 2000 to $106.4 million this year.
Forrest Hoglund, a Dallas-based KU donor whose name appears both on KU's baseball stadium and on a brain imaging center at KU Medical Center, served as the campaign chairman for KU First, the school's last major capital campaign.
He said athletics relies on private donations for its success, and does not receive substantial state support. He said he's supported Perkins' efforts to "put a little swagger back" into KU's programs.
At Kansas State University, athletic giving in the most recent fiscal year totaled $18.5 million, a little less than 60 percent of KU's total.
K-State reported receiving $82.5 million in total and pledged gifts last year — a figure that differs slightly from the way KU reports its data. K-State's figures include donations that have been deferred, while KU's figures account only for cash that's already in hand.
For Lisa Wolf-Wendel, KU faculty senate president and a professor who studies higher education, the new amenities for athletics — renovations to Allen Fieldhouse, new football practice facilities, office space for Olympic sports and a planned Olympic Village — stand in sharp contrast to the tight budget that KU's academics are enduring.
Faculty members are facing furloughs, cutting back on copying expenses and aren't receiving raises, she said.
"We're really thinking about those things on a daily basis," Wolf-Wendel said. "When you've got Allen Fieldhouse and they have palazzo tiles in the bathroom and iPod jacks in the locker rooms, it's hard."
She said she appreciated a recent $40 million commitment to academics from athletics from revenue raised from the Gridiron Club addition to Memorial Stadium.
"It's lovely, and it's great," Wolf-Wendel said. "I applaud them. It's wonderful. I hope they keep it up."
Hoglund said that athletic success stokes university pride, which can help academics.
"From the KU First experience, having a good sports program also helps you raise money for the other things, too," he said.