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Arkansas athletic department commits $1M to academics

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. | The University of Arkansas' athletic department is putting $1 million toward academics, and school leaders say it will help keep tuition costs from going up.

Chancellor G. David Gearhart and athletic director Jeff Long made the announcement Wednesday.

"We can talk about funding that will enhance the academic experience on this campus," Gearhart said. "We can say that Jeff Long's decision will be a prime factor in the university's ability to hold the line on tuition and fees: That for the first time in 24 years there will be no tuition increase at the University of Arkansas, and for the first time in 45 years we will not have a major fee increase.

Gearhart said the school will decide soon how to spend the $1 million.

"We have a number of areas of need, and the campus leadership will determine, as a group, where these funds will have the most impact," Gearhart said."

Long said the department was able to commit the $1 million because of a recent agreement with ISP for multimedia rights and predicted revenues from the Southeastern Conference's television agreement.

"We are grateful to the University of Arkansas administration, faculty and staff for their continued support of our more than 19,000 students. Razorback athletics remains committed to developing students academically, athletically and socially," Long said.

The athletic department has committed money before to help academics — the department gave more than $300,000 to help support Mullins Library, restore Old Main and build the Pat Walker Health Center.

The athletic department also provides nearly $1.2 million annually to fund programs and organizations like the Razorback band, the graduate program in athletic training and the sports turf academic and research program.

"When you consider all these together, the total annual support by athletics to the greater university community is nearly $4 million," Gearhart said.

The $1 million commitment comes from the department's revenue, not from donors, Gearhart said.