McNeese president responds to 'Pay to Play'

McNeese president responds to 'Pay to Play'

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - The following is Dr. Philip Williams' full statement that was emailed to WVUE in response to the "Pay to Play" segment:

"The largest single sum 'spent' on athletics at McNeese is the amount designated for Athletic Student Aid. This amount is extremely misleading, because it is never actually 'spent' by McNeese. Although it shows up in the expense column of the NCAA statement, the entire amount is immediately returned to McNeese in the form of tuition and fees. The amount student-athletes pay back to the university in the form of tuition and fees is not shown as revenue to the University in that same audited statement, because the statement is intended to reflect only Athletics operations, not operations of the University as a whole. Thus, McNeese did not actually make an out-of-pocket payment for 'Student Financial Aid' as a casual observer might wrongly conclude from the audited statement. This figure is a bookkeeping entry, and does not refer to the fact that the student pays that money back to McNeese. If this number is subtracted from the expense column, the athletics budget becomes profitable by approximately that same amount.

Furthermore, the use of percentages suggested by the reporter can be highly misleading, especially when they are applied to budget numbers of differing sizes. Since the athletics budget represents a small fraction of the overall University budget, percentages relating to this fraction of the budget should not be compared to percentages that apply to the University budget as a whole.

For example, the total increase in funding for athletics at McNeese was approximately $1 million over the nine-year period in question, or an average increase of approximately $110,000 per year. This $110,000 annual increase amounts to less than 1 percent of the university's annual operating budget of approximately $60 million. And, as noted above, most of this increase was due to scholarship increases that are largely bookkeeping entries, because the student-athlete must use the entire amount to pay for tuition and fees. When the misleading bookkeeping entry of Student Financial Aid is removed from the financial statement, the annual budget increase for athletics entirely disappears."

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