The WKU faculty regent says she is hearing a great deal of concern from her colleagues concerning the new contract awarded to the school's football coach. History Professor Patti Minter was the lone voice of dissent at Friday's Board of Regents meeting when coach Bobby Petrino's $850,000 dollar contract was approved.
"Decisions like this hire demonstrate that WKU is still committed to funding entertainment at all costs, even as our enrollment flattens, our debt load expands, and our sources of new revenue dry up," Dr. Minter told the Board.
"To state the obvious, WKU must put the money into the academic mission and recognize the faculty and staff who fulfill it are as important as brick-and-mortar and extra-curricular concerns, because when funding is scarce, non-academic projects and extra-curriculars do not teach students, engage in research or public service, or retain the students which is obviously the key to our financial future."
No other regents commented on Minter's statements or the contract before the vote was taken.
After Petrino's contract was approved, Dr. Minter told WKU Public Radio her vote wasn't meant as a slight against athletics, but is instead a protest against what she sees as misplaced priorities at the school.
"Everybody loves entertainment, I go to football games. I love football, and I'm a big fan," said Minter. "But the increased spending on entertainment instead of education in difficult times is very troubling. And if you can read a balance sheet, you can see the escalation."
WKU hired Petrino last month less than 72 hours after then-head coach Willie Taggart left the school for South Florida.
In a recent interview with WKU Public Radio, President Gary Ransdell says competing at a high athletic level helps the image and branding of the school.
Also at Friday's meeting, the Board approved the transfer of 20 acres of land to Hardin County Schools for the creation of a new Early College and Career Center.
The partnership announced Thursday also includes Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.
The result will be a new building where Hardin County school students can take courses in several career pathways, including engineering, manufacturing, automotive technology, media arts, and health sciences.
WKU and ECTC will partner with Hardin County Schools in providing instruction and dual credit courses.