I want to call your attention to a problematic concern as it relates to the Herald-Sun’s reporting on N.C. Central University. I read the article by Ray Gronberg on Jan. 27, 2018, (“NCCU wants to cut its subsidies for sports. But it would come at a cost for students”) and am obligated to point out several inaccuracies, false statements and the overall unfair and unbalanced coverage of N.C. Central University’s proposed mandatory fees. The article is negligent in both analyzing and including comparative data. Furthermore, the piece insinuates that the university is noncompliant with policies set forth by the University of North Carolina System.
First, N.C. Central University has never used academic funds, and at no point utilized academic resources to subsidize or pay for athletics, as stated in the first sentence of the article. Funding from institutional trusts has been provided for athletics, a practice that is transparent and permissible.
Second, NCCU has proposed an overall fee increase of 2.5 percent for 2018-19 (specifically for athletics and health services only), which is less than the 3 percent cap.
▪ The university has not proposed fee increases for student activities, educational and technology and debt service, though substantial fee increases are proposed for other institutions in these specific areas, some up to 10 percent.
▪ NCCU falls behind five other UNC System institutions in proposing fee increases at 3 percent or less.
▪ As a point of reference, here is the report on 2018-2019 Fee Proposals from the University of North Carolina System: http://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=59161&code=bog.
Third, the article lacks any contextual references related to the university’s athletic fees.
▪ During NCCU’s transition from Division II to Division I, the university never increased athletic fees.
▪ The university is currently in the second year of a three-year planned increase in our athletic fees.
▪ On average, the athletic fees at UNC institutions are $713, with five totaling $800 or more.
The shameful accusation that “the schools with the highest athletics fees in the UNC system tend to be historically black ... reflecting their inherent inability to cash in” was nothing less than a derogatory and demeaning comment aimed directly at attacking NCCU, its students, our more than 30,000 alumni and our 107-year-old legacy. Additionally, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of how lower fees at some institutions are supported with endowments or other revenue sources, such as television and apparel contracts.
Lastly, it was troubling to see that the article, with its inaccuracies, was forwarded directly by Mr. Gronberg to individual alumni both internal and external to the university. N.C. Central University demands a correction and addendum to this article so accurate details of the institution’s proposed 2018-2019 mandatory fees can be shared with your readers.
George R. Hamilton is the chairman of the NCCU Board of Trustees.
The Herald-Sun responds: As the linked fee proposals show, the schools with the highest athletic fees in the UNC system “tend to be historically black, small, or both.” If the Board of Governors approves all of this year’s requests, the campuses with the highest athletic fees will be Elizabeth City State University, N.C. Central, N.C. A&T State University and UNC-Asheville. The first three are historically black institutions; ECSU and UNC-Asheville are among the three smallest universities in the system by enrollment. It is no slur, on N.C. Central or any other university, to say it’s difficult for them to cash in on athletic success. College sports programs like those at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University that make money are the exception, not the rule, and they do so largely because membership in a “Power Five” conference enables them to secure more revenue from television rights, apparel contracts and booster donations than most other universities can. Finally we regularly send links to articles to people and groups we think may be interested in sharing them with their followers on social media.