According to a December 6, 2018 article in The Daily Reflector entitled "$20 million going to athletics deficit, facilities," ECU has $149 million in auxiliary reserves and another $48 million in cash at ECU Physicians.
The Board of Trustees (BOT) and Chancellor who made these decisions are the same "leaders" who recently crammed an approximate $1 million student athletics fee increase down the throats of every current ECU non-distance learning student. They were crafty though, as they asked for $1.5 million, which enabled the SGA to "negotiate" the "request" down to about $1 million. In case readers do not know, the BOT can enact any non-tuition increase over any objection by the SGA and/or Faculty Senate, subject only to the approval by the Board of Governors. The SGA and Faculty Senate essentially have little to no power re these fees while being asked to "approve" them as kind of a fig leaf for BOT power.
This is the same "leadership" who cries publicly about the debt the average ECU graduate ends up with while adding to it for essentially football whether a student who must pay it has any interest in athletics or ever attends a game. While I do not oppose students paying equitably (student fees are 41 percent of athletics revenue) toward the ECU athletics program as it is the same as taxpayers having to pay a school tax whether they have any children attending public schools or not, adding to the students' debt load while sitting on huge reserves seems disingenuous and misguided. Since there will remain $139 million in ECU auxiliary reserves after $10 million is transferred to athletics, why not transfer an additional $1 million and spare the students the increase, at least for a year?
Taking it a step further, where did the $149 million in auxiliary reserves come from? Surprise, substantially from students past and present being over-charged.
Per the article, "The revenue is generated through a variety of sources by every university department,” (ECU Chief Communications Officer Tom) Eppes said. Examples include student fees, money paid to rent university facilities and, in the case of ECU Physicians, money paid during patient visits to clinics."
Ignoring ECU Physicians for this letter, straight from the mouth's of the Chancellor and former Chief Financial Officer to my ears in October 2017, students past and present have paid above cost for dining, housing and parking, perhaps other activities. I was also told in that meeting that athletics would have to repay those loans.
The article reads "The athletics department is not required to return money back to those funds, Eppes said.”
So another previously unannounced shift in financial accountability. This meeting was held because I kept asking how Athletics deficits were being funded. Because I continue to ask questions about ECU finances, my access to senior management has been cut off by the Chancellor and this gets me to my main concern with the BOT and Chancellor.
For the last few years, ECU has essentially eliminated transparency with its stakeholders, be they students, donors, ticket buyers or others. This has sharply accelerated under current "leadership." I now have zero trust in the BOT or the Chancellor based on their fiscally irresponsible actions of the last 18 months and the lack of transparency to stakeholders about their doings. Lacking trust, I have lost much of my lifelong passion for ECU.
Rest assured though as one whose family currently provides ten academic scholarships, no student currently receiving our scholarships will suffer any reductions. Longer term, my principles will not enable me to continue to financially support any entity whose leadership I do not trust and see as disingenuous, heavy handed, reactionary and irresponsible. I know others who share my feelings. Read the comments to the linked article for some reader thoughts.
The bottom line is this. Would you invest in a public company where its management refuses to report to you how the business is being managed or to explain its allocation of key financial resources and answer your questions? No media release was issued by ECU about these transfers even though ECU is a public university.
Instead, an interview was done by its communications officer with the local newspaper who was then left to draw its own conclusions and report them. There is no opportunity to get answers to concerns and questions. This is simply not the way to earn stakeholder trust, especially after the Chancellor has shown a propensity to berate large groups of stakeholders in over-reaching e-mails and speeches. It appears that if one dares to ask questions or not toe the party line, one will be cut off from specific knowledge of how critical resources are being moved around. I neither trust nor respect leadership who hides behind back room meetings or refuses to be transparent and directly communicative with its stakeholders.