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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Faculty targets athlete GPAs

Arizona Proposition 100 and NCAA student-athlete academics dominated discussion at the latest meeting of the UA Faculty Senate on Monday.

The Faculty Senate discussed a motion to approve the “”Academics First!”” resolution, which was issued in November of last year by the Faculty Senate at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics. The resolution includes several stipulations regarding the academic performance of athletes, requiring all athletes to have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0, a recommendation that all athletics-related activities (practices, team meetings, etc.) be held outside the “”prime times for academic classes”” and a recommendation that the university establish policies that would minimize class time lost to athletic contests and travel.

Jory Hancock, dean of the College of Fine Arts and member of the UA Intercollegiate Athletic Commission, estimated that the average cumulative grade point average of a student-athlete at the UA was around 2.7-2.8, but pointed out that at Mississippi State University those same figures were around 2.99 during the tenure of new UA athletic director Greg Byrne.

The resolution was passed unanimously.

Proposition 100, which is a proposed three-year one-cent increase to the state sales tax, has been fervently discussed by the UA administration and student government since it was placed on the state ballot Feb. 4. The tax increase, which would raise the sales tax amount from 5.6 to 6.6 cents for every dollar of purchased taxable items, would raise approximately $1 billion a year in new funds, according to Gov. Jan Brewer. Sixty-six percent of those funds would go to fund public and higher education, with the remainder going into health and human services and public safety initiatives.

“”This is a critical moment in Arizona history,”” said Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Chris Nagata. “”It is time to act. With so many things invested in the passage or failure of Proposition 100, we are doing everything we can to show the dire need for it.””

The Arizona Students’ Association has been taking a leadership role in the campaign and is working toward several goals before the election. Those goals include registering 1,000 new student voters by April 9, with 333 coming from the UA, and receiving 15,000 completed “”I Support Prop. 100″” cards, with 5,000 of those coming from the UA.

“”We’re really trying to engage and educate as many students as possible about the implications of Proposition 100, both positive and negative,”” Nagata said. “”We’re direly hoping this gets passed.”” 

If approved by voters, Proposition 100 would halt further cuts to state universities for the next fiscal year. If it fails, an additional $120 million would be cut from the state’s higher education budget, with $41 million to $42 million being cut from the UA.

President Robert Shelton stated that there are only two UA expenditure areas that, if cut, could equal that loss in state funding: university salaries and financial aid.

“”As a private citizen who believes in public education, K-12 and higher, I urge you to get the word out about Prop. 100,”” Shelton said.

Shelton also addressed the Arizona Board of Regents’ recent demand to reduce general fund expenditures on university salaries by 2.75 percent for the next academic year.

“”We’ve already lowered our expenses by that amount for (fiscal year) 2010,”” Shelton said. “”We’ve reduced it by more than 2.75 percent. So the regents’ instruction is moot for this fiscal year, it’s done. What we’re doing now is looking forward to (fiscal year) 2011 and thinking about what that means for us.””

Shelton said the 2.75 percent cut in salaries, which accounts for approximately $5.3 million at the UA, would not be given back to the state but rather be reapportioned into different areas of the budget. When asked about why ABOR would choose to implement this cut now, Shelton could only speculate.

“”I think the intent of the regents’ cut was not so much fiscal as it was to show solidarity with the legislature’s budget,”” Shelton said. “”Their budget instructed that all state agencies except universities eliminate performance pay and institute furloughs. I think this is an effort to demonstrate that we feel their pain on the part of the regents.”” 

The Faculty Senate also discussed and approved a motion reaffirming its opposition to permitting weapons on the UA campus. This motion was also passed without dissent.  

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