Board of Regents discusses athletic program, honors V. Lane Rawlins

Board of Regents discusses athletic program, honors V. Lane Rawlins

Board of Regents discusses athletic program, honors V. Lane Rawlins
January 16
19:25 2014

Joshua Knopp // Senior Staff Writer

The UNT Board of Regents met today to discuss the future of the Mean Green athletic program and Internet security before walking across the street to honor President V. Lane Rawlins, who will retire Feb. 3.

The board meeting

Although the last meeting heavily featured tuition, UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson said the board was waiting until February to discuss it again. The next budget decision will be long-term because of a new law requiring universities to have a fixed four-year rate for incoming freshmen.

Jackson said the difficulty in deciding on tuition lies in the fact that the fixed rate will be optional and there’s no telling how many students will opt in. State funding can fluctuate, but an unknown number of students will have tuitions that cannot. The university is looking at multiple models for how tuition could shake out over the next four to five years.

“You have to make some forecasts,” he said. “It’s just too early, I can’t answer today.”

The board authorized Jackson to negotiate an extension for head football coach Dan McCarney, after coaching the Mean Green to an unexpected 9-4 record and an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season. McCarney has two years left on his contract.

The board also offered Rawlins the honorary title of President Emeritus and the namesake of the new honors residence hall being built on Maple Street. Rawlins accepted, and said he was honored and surprised by the decision.

“Nobody had ever talked to me about any of this,” he said. “If good things happened while I was here, it was a team effort.”

Rawlins presented on UNT athletics funding and how it may evolve. Rawlins pointed out that the revenue received from the Football Bowl Subdivision is widely split among schools’ athletic departments. Schools in the top five NCAA conferences get 83 percent of FBS revenue, while the bottom five receive just 17 percent. Rawlins said to get more from the NCAA, the school would have to spend more on athletics in the short term.

Rawlins demonstrated this with a model of athletic departments across the country. Schools on the lower end of spending were poorly funded by the NCAA, and to increase the money received, the athletic department had to increase in spending. Rawlins said this would be hard on the university because athletics does not generate money directly.

“They generate reputation. They help with recruiting,” he said. “I don’t necessarily agree with this, but American higher education has embraced athletics as a symbol of quality.”

The board also heard presentations on expanding interdisciplinary work at the Health Science Center and improving Internet security, though they made no decisions.

The reception

A little more than 200 people joined in saying goodbye to president V. Lane Rawlins during his retirement ceremony directly after the meeting.

However, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Warren Burggren didn’t see it as a retirement.

“This is not a wake,” he said. “I think this is actually a welcoming of Lane and [his wife] Mary Jo to the Denton community.”

When Rawlins came out of retirement to serve as UNT’s president in 2010, it was with the understanding that it would be a one-year engagement. As he and his wife grew to like Texas more and more, he decided to stay on for what ended up being three more years. As President Emeritus, Rawlins and his wife will stay in Denton indefinitely.

During the ceremony, Burggren and the Board of Regents presented Rawlins with a clock and a framed re-creation of the Four Bold Goals proposal, which he initially drafted.

Representatives from students, faculty and staff spoke, including political science junior and student body president Zachary Brown. Brown presented Rawlins with a North Texas flag and announced that UNT’s fine arts series will be renamed the Mary Jo and V. Lane Fine Arts series. The show is more than 110 years old.

For his remarks, Brown said he gauged student opinions. He said some students called Rawlins a great speaker and leader. Brown said others remarked that they wondered if he could dunk and that they “never thought they’d meet a real live Dumbledore.”

“I can’t put into words what you mean to students,” Brown said.

Rawlins deflected the praise, but said he was grateful for the unexpected experience.

“All of you know that the number of things that have just been credited to me is ridiculous,” he said. “This has been a totally unplanned chapter of our lives, and I think that’s what made it so special.”

Feature photo: President V. Lane Rawlins speaks to students during the union groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 30, 2013. Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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