UNI faculty union leader raises alarms about athletics spending

CEDAR FALLS — The leader of the University of Northern Iowa’s faculty union is voicing concerns over how the school is handling its money.

UNI released a statement defending the movement of nearly a million dollars from its general fund to athletics, saying one of its missions is to identify opportunities for those programs to be more self-sustaining.

United Faculty leader Chris Martin says that shouldn’t come at the cost of education, especially when athletics can already borrow from the general fund. “There was a deal way back in 2010 that UNI’s athletics programs could take money out of the general fund, but it couldn’t go past 2.4 percent,” Martin says. “So there’s always been money going toward that, but in the past year or two, it wasn’t budgeted for.”

Martin says athletics programs borrowed $900.000, which exceeded the allowed percentage. He says the university’s overall budget has shrunk by several million dollars since 2019, largely due to a decrease in funding from the state legislature. “When we’re confronted with losing academic dollars towards athletics or other auxiliary units, that’s a concern for us on the academic side,” Martin says, “since we’re already feeling an incredible pinch from being underfunded from the state.”

UNI’s overall budget has shrunk by about $9 million, and the number of tenure-track positions has dropped by nearly 100 over the past four years.