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Football follies: UNH's telling priorities

Last September, the University of New Hampshire announced plans to spend $1.5 million on new lights at Cowell Stadium. The announcement was made more than a month before a Board of Trustees committee was to meet to consider the funding, which legislators explicitly set aside for spending "at the discretion of the Board of Trustees." In an affront to legislators and taxpayers, UNH was spending it before it was approved.

Last Friday, UNH thumbed legislators in the eye again over the issue of the football stadium. The university announced plans to spend $25 million upgrading the stadium. Of that sum, $5 million would be raised from donors and $20 million would be borrowed from a UNH reserve account. No one should be surprised.

UNH and USNH officials have spent the last several years complaining that their budgets have been cut so deeply that academics would suffer. They pleaded for restored state funding so they could spend it on the core academic mission. All the while UNH was hoarding tens of millions of dollars to remake the football stadium, where student attendance averages only 750 per game.

UNH has priorities, all right. Lowering tuition for students just isn't one of them. Nor is being straightforward with legislators. When are lawmakers going to tire of being played like this?

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