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UB Spectrum totally misses the mark on recreational spending article

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The UB Spectrum recently ran a piece; "At UB, recreation has paid price for heavily subsidized college athletics." The title, like the article content, is completely misleading. It's almost as if the goal was to write an article making a villain of the UB Athletics Department and did the bare minimum amount of work needed to make his case.

First a note: My Grandfather always used to remind me; "There are lies, damn lies, and figures... figures tend to lie most of all."

Different departments account for things in different ways. Different schools fund things through different practices. In articles like the one Mr. Dinki attempted you are almost *NEVER* comparing apples with apples. I'm trying the best I can to make things clear here and I have *no* agenda in this other than to expose some glaring omissions.

First let's present some of what is in the article.

Stony Brook, a SUNY university center like UB, spent $37.5 million in 2012 to create an 85,000-square-foot recreation center. UB’s fellow Mid-American Conference universities have also invested in their recreational facilities, with Ball State opening a $40 million rec center in 2010 and Bowling Green spending $14.8 million to upgrade its rec center in 2014.

Since Stony Brook is a SUNY Center and the article calls them out I feel they are the best barometer for comparison. Ball State and Bowling Green are in different systems with different dynamics and different relationships with their state systems.

So lets talk athletics spending and recreation spending at the other SUNY Center.

Athletics Buffalo Stony Brook
Revenues $32,181,522 $29,103,307
Student Fees $8,433,752 $8,290,097
School Support $15,919,426 $15,577,156
Students 29,944 25,272
$ / Student $1,075 $1,152
Fees / Student $282 $328
Support / Stu $532 $616

As you can see from the table to the right, Stony Brook spends more per student on the athletics programs than UB does.

Both their direct student fees and institutional support are higher despite the fact that the Seawolves are an FCS team with fewer scholarships, a lower coaching budget, and a new state-provided stadium with presumably lower upkeep than the 25-year-old track venue where UB plays their games.

In other words, kids at Stony Brook are spending more money for their Division I sports teams and getting less out of it. Both in Basketball and Football, which are usually called "the revenue sports," UB plays in a higher weight class than Stony Brook.

And per student the Seawolves are spending more.

Now, let's take a peek at how Stony Brook might have gotten to spend $40 million on their recreation center.

Recreation Buffalo Stony Brook
Fees $23.78 $168.00
Students 29,944 25,272
Total $712,069 $4,245,696

Per the Spectrum's data, UB spends a little more than seven hundred thousand per year on recreation. When you look at that through the lens of the entire student body, that breaks down to about $23 per student.

Stony Brook charges their students $84 dollars a semester for recreation. Considering their enrollment that means they have been spending four and a quarter million dollars per year.

That kind of annual budget goes a long way towards financing of new buildings and if UB wants to add another $150per student to the budget then they should do so.

But it's my contention that the best way to spend that money is UB Athletics. With proper oversight and partnership the Athletics Department can provide the best facilities for dual use. If Ball State and Bowling Green want to drop money on both let them waste their money. That's a problem for the people of Indiana and Ohio.

In the very same Spectrum article where a false dichotomy is drawn between athletic facilities and recreational facilities there is a picture of students playing basketball at the Triple Gym, which was renovated by Athletics dollars. You see people playing on Kunz field, which needs a lot of work and is part of UB Athletics' facilities plan for improvement. When the field is replaced it will come out of Athletics' budget, as it should.

Maybe I am wrong, and the glaring mistakes in the article were honest ones. Perhaps the conclusions were not already in Mr. Dinki's head before he started writing his piece. But intentional or not he was wrong. He painted a picture of UB Athletics as an enemy of student recreation when that's just not the case. UB Athletics is not putting down kids by under funding recreation and the numbers bear that out.

Here's the thing. If NYBI proved anything it proved I have *NO* influence on the mood of students on campus. Still, I take very careful steps to be sure I don't castigate people most of the time. When I do go after an individual or group I make sure it's not someone I can hurt who is not a UB student or employee. Usually my venom is saved for the opinion folks at the Buffalo News and nothing I have ever said about the Buffalo News hurt a writer's career.

But The Spectrum does have a role in shaping opinions on campus. They have influence and this article was wholly irresponsible. It seemed to me to be a witch hunt and they could have done far better.

Next time, when you're comparing apples and oranges; first, recognize it, and second, make it known you are doing so. Nowhere did you mention that Stony Brook students put in eight times the amount of recreational money and nearly 10% more athletics money when you pointed out their facilities. To do otherwise is a slap in the face to students and administrators in the Athletic Department and it's a massive disservice to your readers.