Washington State has approved a $10 million facility for its baseball program, but some at the school are now calling foul on how the new stadium will be funded.
The Washington State Board of Regents said in a press release that “100 percent of the project costs will be covered through private donations.” However, at least one student leader says that language is misleading.
“The goal of that messaging by athletics is to assure people that this isn’t a debt situation,” student regent Jordan Frost told Cougar Sports Network. “The project is not 100 percent privately funded, because part of what we voted on was to give a $3.5 million loan from the university general budget to the athletic department.”
The agreement states that the loan’s interest rate can’t exceed 5.5 percent and must be repaid by 2025. Athletics plans to repay the money with private pledges and donations. However, the loan is not guaranteed at this point, and some believe the loan will eventually fall back on the students given that WSU’s athletic department ended 2018 with $67 to $85 million in debt.
“I have a problem with issuing debt to a department that is already in debt from a university that is still in debt,” said Frost.
Head baseball coach Marty Lee says baseball is deserving of the new facility. “I would argue there is more history to this sport than there is any other sport [at Washington State],” Lees said.
Frost sees things differently. “We have other departments on this campus that are currently suffering because of the debt we spent to build our football program up,” Frost said, adding that he wants to ensure the school also invests in academic and housing facilities. “We need modernized buildings if we want to compete,” Frost said. “Our college of business dean wants a new building and he’s right. If you go look at [University of Washington] and [Arizona State] and some of our competitors, their business facilities are amazing.”
Frost was the only member of the Board of Regents to vote against the loan for the new stadium.