Our View: State has better things to do than match campaign

It’s fair to say the University of Wyoming is facing some serious budget problems, like almost every other governmental entity in the state.

A recent article from the Casper Star-Tribune reported the university prepared to take a cut of at least $42 million due to the pandemic and the state’s own revenue woes.

Up until recently, the university has projected a 20% decrease in enrollment until the state announced it would provide education grants to residents that had become under employed or unemployed due to the pandemic. Now the college’s leaders only anticipate a drop of about 4.5% from last year.

The school’s athletic’s department is facing similar pressures as the Mountain West Conference announced fall sports would be postponed. The postponement includes football, which is a major money maker for the department, which is estimated to lose $15 million in revenue.

Last week, the university’s athletic’s department announced its WHYoming NOW fundraising campaign, which aims to provide funding to maintain the university’s athletics programs. This is all well and good, except for a line mentioning funding would be matched by the state.

On the surface, this isn’t alarming because the state has matched donation drives in the past. However, the question is if the state should match those donations while facing significant revenue shortfalls of its own.

We’re fans of Wyoming Athletics, but this might be a time where state legislators focus on the larger problems Wyoming faces. How much would the campaign bring in? A few hundred thousand? Maybe a few million? Regardless of how much, for a state that could lay off every employee and still face a budget shortfall, it’s too much money.

If the state is in a position to match donations towards athletics spending, it should focus more on ensuring its more vulnerable populations are the least impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, not the needs of the university athletics department. Services provided by the state to people who need them should take precedence.

This is a difficult position to take, however the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few.

A moratorium on matching donations should be initiated and whatever account those funds come from should be redirected until the pandemic has passed. This may mean the college’s athletics program will suffer until then, but there are more worthy causes state funding should be applied to.


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