Why St. Cloud's Potter only promised a 2-year grace period

Last week, students at St. Cloud State University approved a referendum that will increase student fees by $1.74 per credit for three years in an effort to save the football program and a number of other sports.

After I asked about why St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter recently promised only two years without any sports cuts -- even though students appear to have raised enough money for three -- I got this e-mail from Potter himself:

We will have a new legislature and a new governor.  We have planned for a “worst case” scenario for the next biennium (a $14M cut overall…about 10% on top of a 10% cut over the last three years); so, I feel comfortable promising not to cut any sports through FY 13 (i.e., through June 30, 2013).  With the future of the economy and legislative directions unclear, it would be unwise to promise more. What I did say at the meeting that (radio station) WJON (source of much of the local news coverage) did not report was that “barring any drastic additional cuts, we should be good for most of the rest of this decade.”

At the same time, we have a lot of work to do to strengthen other funding sources….private giving, game attendance, etc. and now we have three years to do that.  Thus, when the student commitment expires, a lot will be different.  We will then take next steps from that point.

In my mind the student vote was neither a boon nor a bailout.  Students have declined to increase the fee for athletics many times in the last two decades resulting in a fee that was among the lowest in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU) and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).  The vote corrected years of underfunding.  Having said this, the athletics division can and will do a better job in the future to secure trust and win the right level of student support for the future.

I've edited it lightly for clarity, and put what I saw as the main idea in bold for emphasis.

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