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Saturday, April 17, 2021

The University Athletic Association has chipped in ,6 million to help with several of UF's academic programs that are threatened by upcoming budget cuts, according to a UF press release.

The release stated that UF President Bernie Machen announced the ,6 million donation at the UF Joint Civic Club Luncheon at the Hilton University Conference Center on Aug. 15.

"Our athletics programs have had tremendous success during the past couple of years," Machen said in the release. "It takes a great academic university to be a top athletic university."

According to a budget sheet, UAA traditionally donates an average of ,2 million to the university every year.

The department has donated about ,40 million total since 1990.

Jeremy Foley, UF's athletics director, said he and Machen had been discussing the donation for about a month.

The size of the gift was substantially due to the success Gator athletics have had in the past two years, he added.

Foley said UAA generates revenue on every game that is not nationally televised by placing it on Pay Per View.

The money earned on those games is given directly to the library system.

This year, a ,50,000 donation was given to the libraries.

The ,6 million donation is the largest single contribution UAA has ever made.

The release said about ,4 million will go toward the Florida Opportunity Scholars program.

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The statewide program, originated at UF, pays tuition, room and board for qualified first-generation students attending a four-year university with a family income under ,40,000 per year.

In 2006, UAA donated about ,1 million to the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program.

While the state will continue to fund all of the program's second-year recipients and half of its first-year students, the future of the Florida Opportunity Scholars remains hazy.

When asked if the rest of the money would go toward the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' ,4 million accruing debt, UF spokesman Steve Orlando said UF has not yet decided where the remaining ,2 million will go.

Some other annual gift recipients include the O'Connell Center and other parking garages, UF's share of logo profits and support of UF's registrar and financial aid positions.

UAA donated ,1.5 million to campus dining facilities between 1994 and 1995. During the 2003-2004 school year, it donated ,200,000 for a new band building.

In 2006, UAA contributed ,154,155 for UF salaries.

When the startup date for the Tuition Differential Program was pushed to fall 2008, UF lost out on a 15 percent tuition increase that would have generated about ,3 million from incoming students.

In a Board of Trustees meeting in June, Machen announced that UF would have to make ,20 million to ,30 million in budget cuts to break even without the money from the program.

The Tuition Differential Program will allow UF, Florida State University and the University of South Florida to incrementally raise tuition up to 40 percent over the next four years.

For UF, that would be about ,1,300 more per year that students would have to pay.

Orlando also said the Florida Legislature cut funding for UF's academic programs.

Orlando supported Machen's statements that compared UF's athletic and academic strengths.

"It just goes to show that we're not just a sports school," he said. "Great athletics and great academics go hand in hand."

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