Louisiana governor: College football in jeopardy in midst of budget crisis

LSU (USATSI)
LSU's 2016 season could be in jeopardy due to the state's budget crisis. (USATSI)

Louisiana is in the midst of a budget crisis that has the state projected to run its deficit from $940 million as it stands currently, to $2 billion in the coming fiscal year, beginning on July 1.

Governor John Bel Edwards spoke on the budget crisis on Thursday night and noted that the state university system is among the programs that is running out of money rapidly. Governor Edwards stated that the state's higher education system will need to cut $42 million off its budget by the end of the fiscal year.

"Even with additional revenue, higher education this year will need to cut $42 million," said Edwards. "This will be combined with a $28 million cut in TOPS scholarship funds
that the universities will have to absorb, resulting in the largest mid-year cut in Louisiana history. However, if there is no new revenue raised this year, higher education will face catastrophic cuts over the next 4 months. And that comes on the heels of the largest disinvestment in higher education in the nation over the last eight years."

He also warned, or threatened, that if the state legislature does not act and "choose a way to raise additional dollars" (meaning raise taxes), there would be catastrophic fallout for the state's publicly funded universities. He stated that LSU's main campus would run out of money by April 30, and a failure to raise funds would result in financial bankruptcy and the cancellation of classes.

The cancellation of classes would mean student-athletes would be ineligible to play fall sports, and college football would cease in the state of Louisiana.

"As I mentioned earlier, if the legislature fails to act and we are forced to proceed with these cuts, the LSU Ag Center and parish extension offices in every parish, and Pennington Bio-medical Research Center will close by April 1 and the LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30, as will the Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and LSU Eunice," Edwards said. "There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University System, and University of Louisiana System, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are in the same boat: without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes.

"If you are a student attending one of these universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete, many students will not be able to graduate and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall."

The Louisiana budget crisis has widespread consequences far more serious than merely the potential cancellation of college football, but that threat will, if nothing else, force many to take notice of the potential catastrophe facing the Louisiana state university system.

The governor proposed a one-penny increase of the state's sales tax (currently four cents) and an increase in taxes on alcohol and cigarettes as part of his budget stabilizing plan, as well as cuts to government hiring and spending.

You can read the governor's full speech here on NOLA.com.

CBS Sports Writer

Robby Kalland covers college football and golf for CBS Sports; he also dabbles in boxing, mixed martial arts and other sports. Prior to joining CBS in 2015, Robby spent time working for the Atlanta Hawks,... Full Bio

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