Yes, you read that right. That could be reality unless the newly elected Governor, John Bel Edwards, gets his budget passed by the state legislature.
Before you start freaking out that the beloved Tigers are not going to take the field next season, you should know that is considered a last resort. The state doesn’t want this to happen, but the bottom line is that running a university is expensive.
LSU is not the only school in the crossfire, any public college or university in the state has a target on their backs, should this budget not get passed. We are talking mass layoffs of faculty, entire departments getting cut, endowments shrinking, and athletic programs getting suspended or worse, terminated.
In a statewide address Thursday, Governor Edwards said campuses could run out of money and be forced to shut down in April, and specifically singled out the LSU football program as one that won’t be taking the field next fall.
The problem with this is that it is a compounding issue. Government budgets don’t shrink, they only get bigger each fiscal year. What that means is that even if this year’s budget gets passed, the state will be in this position again next year. Only next year, the budget they are trying to pass could be double what it is now. It is a slippery slope and they are currently standing at the top, looking down at a hell of a lot of uncertainty.
Ask anyone from Louisiana, they have two major sports teams that they about: The New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers. If one of those teams gets shut down, there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans. Not to mention, LSU is one of the few NCAA football programs in the country that actually makes money, so to the school they aren’t a burden, the problem is: no school, no team.
I have the utmost belief there is no way that the state denies this budget. How do you explain the closing or downsizing of all the public universities? Schools such as LSU, Grambling State, University of Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and so many more. This budget will pass, these schools will survive, but what about next year? Or the year after that? The state is in a world of hurt right now, and I’m not sure there is anywhere to go but down. Unfortunately, if down is the only way to go that means one of two things: the budget will increase which means more debt, or the state will begin their plan of cutting. That means eliminating a lot of public service jobs, college jobs, and any other program that’s deemed “expendable” to shrink their budget.
The Tigers will play, but damn if that’s not a scary headline, I’m not sure what is.
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