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Suggestion of donating Athletic Department funds to food bank causes tension


OSU fans cheer on the Buckeyes during a game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 31-24.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

One state lawmaker’s proposal to donate interest from athletic ticket sales would cost Ohio State $25,000. While athletic director Gene Smith did not take a formal position on the idea, he made clear that every dollar counts in order for his department to remain self sufficient.

Last week, Democratic State Rep. Tom Letson, discussed his bill proposal at an Ohio Association of Foodbanks appreciation luncheon, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Although Letson did not mention OSU specifically, the proposal would affect the university. The estimated amount after configuring the interest generated in funds would be about $25,000, Smith said.

While Smith did not take a formal position on the idea, he made clear that every dollar is needed for his department to remain self sufficient.

“All monies generated, including the approximate figure of $25,000 for interest earned on annual football season ticket sales, help our department remain self-sufficient while supporting the academic mission of the university, like the $9 million athletics department investment in the university library,” Smith said in a statement emailed to The Lantern by OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg.

Wallenberg added the department “does not use any public tax dollars or student fees.”

The Athletic Department is in year seven of nine of providing $1 million a year to the university for the $109 million William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library renovation, totalling a $9 million donation from the department, Wallenberg said.

Some students agree donating to food banks is a good cause, but don’t necessarily believe the athletic department should give up its money.

“It’s for a good cause, but at the same time, it should go toward the athletic department,” said Jessie Buckler, a second-year in strategic communication. “The whole point of selling tickets is to raise money for themselves.”

Samantha Hoxie, a fourth-year in animal nutrition, said if it were to truly benefit the needy it would be worthwhile.

Since the proposal was for all Ohio colleges, there is a question of whether this would affect OSU more than smaller universities. Buckler said her position doesn’t change based on what the dollar amount is.

“Whether you’re making a large profit or a small profit, it needs to go back to sports,” Buckler said. “Without money, they can’t do as well, such as getting a good staff. It shouldn’t matter if you are a small organization or a large organization.”

Ticket holders may be concerned about what they are paying for, Hoxie said.

“People want to know where their money goes,” Hoxie said.

Buckler said the state should allow each university to choose the amount they contribute.

“(Let it be) up to the department on how much they are going to give,” Buckler said. “You choose how much you’re willing to donate, but not force them.”

Hoxie said OSU should help out the less fortunate in the campus area.

“There are lots of homeless in the area,” Hoxie said. “It makes more sense (to give to them) than (having the money) just to go toward athletics.”

Letson said he just wants the money to be used to help others.

“I am trying to find a way to feed people,” Letson said, according to the Dispatch.

One comment

  1. How did I know just by reading the headline that a pick-pocket democrat came up with this goofy idea? Legislating charity: what’ll they think of next. How about this: provide collection points at Ohio Stadium gates for donations (canned goods, money) and allow the fans to decide for themselves what to donate. Better yet, recruit corporations to match the donations. My guess is the $25K mark would be exceeded during one home game. While Letson may want to find a way to feed people, he also wants to find a way to get credit (read: votes).

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