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Basketball, football or the poor and the sick?

Posted Feb 23 2009 11:34pm

An open letter to Governor Perdue and the citizens of the State of North Carolina

As we know there are budget cuts coming. From the State, counties and cities, there will be endless debate about where to cut and how much to cut and whether the cuts are made equitably. I have an alternative idea. Stop funding college athletics. I don't mean cutting the miniscule funds for women's aquatics or the golf programs but all collegiate athletics. I know I will get hate mail but what is the purpose of the State colleges and Universities? Is it to educate or to entertain?

What I propose would not save billions of dollars but would easily save tens of millions in salaries alone. In a simple analysis based on public records, I was able to determine a very low estimate of the cost of just Men's Basketball. Note: These numbers are based on 2006-2007 data and many of the staff were not listed in the database.

UNCP$33,250, NC Central $85,701, Elizabeth City $87,535, Winston Salem $88,000 Fayetteville State $88.582, ECU $118,000, Asheville $118,333, NC A&T $127,740, UNCG $176,401, ASU $203,500, Western Carolina $184,889, UNCW $229,775, UNC Charlotte $469,975, NC State $685,245, UNC $1,124,140

UNC Football has a staff of 35 including a chef. ECU Football has a budget of at least $900,000 in salaries alone. Carolina and NC State have a combined athletic budget of over one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) a year.

It was announced on February 3, 2009 that the state was closing down the Purchase of Medical Care (POMCS) "due to drastic budget reductions to the Department of Public Health". POMCS provides assistance to the poorest citizens of the state with Adult Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Cancer, End Stage Kidney disease and HIV/AIDS.

What does this mean? The budget for direct services to cancer patients in 2008 was $2,531,934. That would pay for 8 days of diagnostic services each year, 30 days of treatment each year, and follow up services. HIV/AIDS funds pay for prescription medications. Adult cystic fibrosis helped people with cystic fibrosis, who in the 1950's often did not live to attend elementary school, pay for hospitalizations and doctor visits and related medical needs. The End Stage Kidney program pays for medications and dialysis. medical equipment. The Sickle Cell program also pays for necessary medical care and emergency room visits for those in crisis.

Each of the programs had different eligibility requirements but all of them helped the citizens of North Carolina through medical emergencies. The State hopes to begin funding these services again in the 2009 fiscal year.

Critics will say that the teams make money for the school. Excellent, then they should have no problem paying the salaries for the staff to support them. What is really more important here? Dialysis or basketball? Chemotherapy or football? What is the nobler role for government? These are life and death decisions that are being made.

How many North Carolinians could quote Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Basketball, Football or the poor and the sick. What would Jesus do?

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