Georgia officials want less student money used for sports

ATLANTA (AP) — University System of Georgia officials on Tuesday capped how much athletic programs can depend on student fees and tuition for funding, urging campuses to look elsewhere amid national concern about college costs.

The system's governing Board of Regents approved the new policy, limiting the portion of an athletic program's budget that can come from student fees or tuition. The amount runs from 65 percent to 85 percent and is tied to each school's athletic association, allowing those in smaller organizations to depend more on student dollars than schools in NCAA divisions.

The updates also include a 5 percent cap on annual growth in athletic expenses.

The change has little effect on the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech athletic programs, which depend least on student funding thanks to donations, revenue from broadcasting games and other sources. Those schools were limited to 10 percent of athletic funds coming from students. Last year, student funding made up about 2.8 percent of UGA's athletic program funding and 7.2 percent of Georgia Tech's, according to the university system.

But six schools, including Georgia State University in Atlanta, have to lower their dependence on student money within four years. Others exceeding the new limits, based on financial year 2015 budgets, are Armstrong State University, Middle Georgia State University, East Georgia State College, Gordon State College and Atlanta Metropolitan State College.

Board Chair Kessel Stelling Jr. said he's heard some supporters of those schools complain that the system is "unfairly infringing on their spending."

"I said, 'No, you have a fundraising issue, not a spending issue,'" Stelling said at Tuesday's meeting.

If any schools exceed the cap on direct student funding to their athletic budget, the university system's chancellor and Board of Regents can step in to make changes, said John Fuchko, the system's vice chancellor for internal audit and compliance.