Nicholls State University, a fellow Southland Conference program, faces a potential 35 percent budget cut from the Louisiana State legislature.
However, the athletics department remains unharmed, according to school officials.
Nicholls State has not cut or reduced any athletic program, despite a 20 percent slash in the university's budget last year and the threat of an even bigger reduction this year. Rob Bernardi, Nicholls State athletic director, said while reductions are taking place, the average person probably would not be able to tell.
“While we have cut our budgets, I do not think anyone — with the exception of people in the athletic department — will see any effects,” Bernardi said. “We haven’t dropped any sports. We have not eliminated any scholarships. We haven’t reduced coaching staffs, and our teams are playing full schedules.”
The Colonels are finding new ways to save and raise money, according to Bernardi. One tactic is to not replace people who are retiring or moving to another position. Bernardi said Nicholls State officials also plan to follow the action of other universities in their efforts to save money.
“It’s across the country,” Bernardi said. “This is not something specific to our state or university. This is something that is affecting everybody.”
The University of California-Berkley, for example, recently cut five of its athletic programs at the end of this year, including its century-old baseball program and multi-championship-winning rugby team. The rugby team, which won 25 national championships since 1980, will be reduced to a self-financed club sport. Cutting the programs saved Berkley an estimated $4 million.
The location and size of the universities are also factors playing into budgets. At Texas State, $14 of every credit hour from each student goes to the athletics budget. At Nicholls State, $3.50 per credit hour per student goes toward athletics. Texas State also has about 25,000 more students than Nicholls State.
“If the 30 percent budget cut comes to fruition, which hopefully it won’t, that’s a significant amount to cut from any university,” Bernardi said. “It will be interesting to see what happens. I’d like to see us in the situations the Texas schools are, getting $200 to $300 per student for student fees.”