Thursday, October 2, 2008

DEATON DOWNER: MU Students Cry Foul Over Athletics "Tax"

Taxes, it seems, never sunset, even at a university filled with the financially strapped.

"In 1972, MU began collecting an $8 student fee to pay off a loan used to build the Hearnes Center," the MU Maneater recently reported. "Although the debt was paid off in 1995, MU continued to collect the fee until 2004."

"The Board of Curators voted to allow the fee in 1969 with the understanding that it would only be used to pay off the construction loan. The document stated all costs of operating and maintaining the building would be provided from other funds, not from the Hearnes Center fee."

Between 1995 and 2004, long after the tax was due to sunset, it generated about $1 million for MU coffers. In May 2007, the Hearnes Center Advisory Committee -- with support from the Missouri Students Association (MSA) and the Graduate Professional Council -- voted 8-5 to return $750,000 to students.

But MU athletic director Mike Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton said "no." Instead, Alden proposed returning 50 percent of the interest accrued from the account -- about $15,000, according to the Maneater.

The Maneater's student editors rightly panned the decision, claiming that Alden and Deaton were ignoring the concerns of the young minds in their charge.

"MSA did everything they possibly could to persuade the advisory committee, Alden, and Deaton that transferring the money was the most fair and logical way to deal with the sum," Maneater editors wrote. "They followed all the rules, talked with the right people, followed the process and did so with professionalism and persistence. And yet Deaton still denied the proposal - after avoiding it for 10 months."

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