Facing a budget crisis, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says higher education in the state could be compromised. And that includes the possibility of college athletics in Louisiana being canceled.
In a statewide televised address Thursday, Edwards said campuses could run out of money and be forced to shut down in April, highlighting the LSU football team as one program that could be lost as a result of massive cuts to higher education funding.
"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," Edwards said, according to The Times-Picayune. "That means you can say farewell to college football next fall."
The Democratic governor is pushing for tax increases to help make up a $940 million budget deficit by the end of June. He said Louisiana could be forced to cut vital health services as well.
"These are not scare tactics. This is reality," Edwards said. "An unstable state budget will not only hurt children and working families in our state, it will devastate communities, businesses and local government as well."
Some Republicans are unhappy with the size of the governor's proposed tax increases, the newspaper reports.
"Gov. Edwards is proposing to implement the largest tax increase in the history of Louisiana," treasurer John Kennedy said in a rebuttal. "It will wreck our economy, already fragile."
If lawmakers find a solution to keep colleges open and save the Tigers' 2016 season, the state will face a similar problem the following fiscal year, when Louisiana faces a $2 billion budget shortfall, according to The Times-Picayune.