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Straining resources?

It was just last December that officials with the College of Southern Nevada announced a roster of cost-cutting measures designed to trim $1.8 million from the school’s budget. They blamed lower-than-anticipated enrollment coming on the heels of changes to the state funding formula.

The financial shortfall hit a variety of areas, including maintenance, libraries and tutoring availability.

“Student services is our number one priority,” CSN associate vice president John McCoy said at the time. “We are making date-informed decisions to minimize the impact that these budget cuts have.”

The money woes, however, were apparently short-lived. The Review-Journal’s Ana Ley reported Monday that the college — a two-year institution — may add a host of new athletic programs in the coming years at a six-figure cost.

The school has fielded a successful baseball team since 2000, winning the junior college national championship in 2003 when Bryce Harper led the team. CSN’s softball team has competed since 2004. But other Coyote teams haven’t fared as well. The school dropped women’s soccer in 2002. Men’s and women’s basketball got the ax in 2003 after running up $300,000 in red ink.

Yet CSN is moving forward with plans to add men’s and women’s soccer next year along with women’s volleyball. School officials have also floated the idea of reviving men’s and women’s basketball. “We want to provide an opportunity to young people who want to have that sports experience and use that vehicle to get to higher education,” CSN Athletic Director Dexter Irvin told Ms. Ley.

That’s certainly a noble sentiment. Athletics indeed play a role in the development of mind, body and spirit. School president Michael Richards insists the new programs won’t “strain the resources” of the college.

But equally at play here is a marketing effort by CSN to draw more local students, thus putting additional bodies in the seats to boost tuition revenue and state funding.

Problem is, athletic costs tend to grow like kudzu, as escalating ambitions translate into higher travel, recruiting and coaching expenses along with expensive new facilities. USA Today reported in 2013 that just 23 of the 228 public schools in NCAA Division I made money off their athletic programs — and 16 of the schools in the black provided some sort of subsidy from the general fund.

Of course, CSN won’t be confused with UCLA or Texas. But school officials had better keep a close eye on mushrooming costs if they follow through with their aggressive sports expansion plans. And they shouldn’t expect a great deal of sympathy the next time they execute a round of budget reductions.

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