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Kentucky Football: The Answer to Why UK's Football Team is Underfunded

There has been much debate on this blog and others about why Kentucky doesn't draw in the great recruits, great coaches, and produce football teams that are competitive with the other schools in the SEC.  Many of us have lamented Kentucky's apparent lack of support for the football program, and pointed the finger mostly at the athletics department.

Matt Jones at KSR highlighted an important piece at the Herald-Leader, where a UK trustee explains in detail most of the reasons UK doesn't spend the cash to upgrade the facilities to SEC level.  It is a revealing, almost exposé-like look into many of the ins and outs of who gets money and why.  Suffice it to say that the football program has a lot of competition for the dollars it needs to upgrade facilities.

Of course, it isn't the whole story, but the reality is that Kentucky cannot fund major projects like a stadium renovation entirely out of private funds.  They have to have the ability to borrow money, and that province is reserved to a board of trustees that is very reluctant to dole out the ability to borrow cash to athletics.

I encourage each and every one of you who have wondered about what structural problems hold back UK from creating the kinds of programs we see everywhere around the SEC to read Matt's post and the Herald-Leader article.  But before you wax all polemic, consider that there are many good causes requiring money that UK can borrow, and sports is understandably not at the very top of the list.  Kentucky is supposed to be an academic institution first, and it looks to me like they are putting their money where their mission is.

The flip side to that is that the potential cash cow that is the athletics department, and in particular, the football program, is getting starved for money.  The basketball program is the sacred cow at Kentucky, and it will get what it needs one way or the other.  But football is not, and the reason is that the UK Athletics Administration cannot borrow money independent of the university.

As Matt said, this is a matter that deserves public discussion about where the flagship university of the Commonwealth should put its priorities.  That answer might not necessarily mean more money to athletics.

This ought to provide good fodder for discussion.