By a vote of 4-3, the Pulaski Technical College Board of Trustees today voted against a proposal from the Arkansas Junior College Athletic Foundation to establish an intercollegiate athletic program at the college.
Trustees Mike Rebick, vice chair; Audrey Henry, secretary; Eric Munson and James Herzfeld voted against the proposal. John Barnes, Leon Jones and John Suskie voted in favor of the program.
Prior to voting, board members heard from Student Government Association President James Short, Faculty Council President Jason Bass, President Dr. Dan F. Bakke and former Pulaski Tech President Ben Wyatt, who chairs the athletic foundation's board of directors.
Short said 421 students--or 77 percent of those participating in a student poll, voted in support of the proposal, which called for establishing a men's football program in 2004 and a women's volleyball program the following year. Eighty-four students (15 percent of those responding) voted against the proposal and 46 students (8 percent) took a neutral stance. A total of 551 students participated in the poll.
Bass said 61 faculty members--or 80 percent of those responding to a faculty poll, expressed approval of the proposal. Fifteen faculty members (20 percent of those responding to the poll) expressed disapproval.
Dr. Bakke presented an administrative endorsement of the athletic proposal, stating that the athletic foundation had answered a number of questions from administration concerning funding for areas such as tutoring services, sports information and administrative costs. He also said the program would complement the overall mission of the college and provide access and student involvement.
Barnes, who chaired the board's athletic committee, presented the motion to approve the concept and authorize college administration to enter contract negotiations with the foundation.
If the motion had been approved, Barnes said a formal contract would have been voted on at a future board meeting.
In voting against the measure, Munson said the college does not have adequate funding to support existing programs and services and that the board needed to focus on obtaining resources for faculty, facilities and student support services.
By state law, Barnes said, no college or state funds can be used to fund two-year college athletic programs. All funds must be raised from the private sector.
Wyatt said the athletic foundation had secured enough funding for the first three years of the program. After three years, the program would be evaluated concerning its viability and sustainability.