UT announced on Tuesday that the UT Athletic Department will be transferring $1 million in support of academics on the UT Knoxville campus each year beginning in 2009-10. The additional funds will be used directly to enhance undergraduate and graduate education within the Knoxville campus, according to UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek.
“This new funding will have a direct impact on the way we educate students, conduct research, and, ultimately, serve the people of Tennessee,” Cheek said in a press release. “In particular, the emphasis on graduate education provides vital support to an area that is most important in enhancing our academic profile. The funding highlights the continuing partnership that exists between our athletic programs and the rest of the university.”
The athletic department’s new financial commitment, which comes as a direct result of the Southeastern Conference’s new 15-year television contract with ESPN totaling $2.25 billion, will ultimately provide an additional $15 million over the next 15 years for UT-Knoxville. UT will distribute the funds across the campus in three ways: $100,000 for the Student Success Center, $100,000 for the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center and $800,000 towards assistantships for graduate students on campus.
“I am particularly glad that we will be able to use $800,000 of this sum to enhance graduate education by providing up to 40 graduate assistantships each year to departments and colleges throughout the campus,” Cheek said in an e-mail to students and faculty on Tuesday. “This investment in graduate studies at UT Knoxville will have a lasting impact on our ability to recruit and retain top graduate students across the full breadth of our campus.”
UT Athletics will contribute over $11 million to the UT system in the fiscal year 2010 while receiving no funds from Tennessee state subsidies or taxes.
“UT Athletics is one of a handful of athletic programs in the country that does not receive state funds,” Tiffany Carpenter, director of public relations for UT Athletics, said. “We continue to be self-supporting and we’re very proud of that. We have a great partnership with the university, and we like to provide support when we have it available.”