Several letters have appeared here recently, the last being from David Ramsey, of Hammond, which called to our attention the fact that our universities seem to think athletics might have a higher priority than academics in this dreadful state budget situation.

There was a lot of talk but little specific details, and most seemed directed at LSU although the fans support that program fully and they require no taxpayer money to keep them afloat. However, schools in our University of Louisiana system are another matter.

Specifically, the Louisiana legislative auditor just released his review of the income and expenses of the most recent annual athletic fiscal year of each school in the system, and he found or validated staggering losses by most of them.

Losses, income less expenses, amounted to $9,804,000 at La Tech; $6,893,244 at Northwestern State; $5,649,393 at University of Louisiana at Lafayette; $5,131,894 at Southeastern Louisiana University; $4,592,000 at McNeese State; $2,444,826 at Nicholls State; and $112,734 at University of New Orleans. University of Louisiana at Monroe results were not listed but would most likely be around the same as last year, $3,789,317.

Grambling and Southern University were not included, but if they had, the combined losses of all schools would have exceeded $50 million.

Each school covered its losses by transferring the amount of its shortage from its state-appropriated general funds (taxpayer money) to its athletic department.

It’s hard for me, as a taxpayer, to understand why that is allowed, especially in these hard times. Just think of the programs that could be saved if this practice was prohibited. If they don’t have enough fans to support their programs at the existing levels, then reduce the expenses to where they can.

Velton Knight

retired administrator

Baton Rouge