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What Does The Louisiana Budget Crisis Mean For the G5?

With a nearly $1 billion dollar budget deficit facing Louisiana, smaller programs in the state could have their futures altered by financial changes.

With state schools facing potential budget cuts, Tulane's status as a private institution could spare them from those losses.
With state schools facing potential budget cuts, Tulane's status as a private institution could spare them from those losses.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards's announced that the state would be facing a nearly $1 billion dollar deficit in its budget for 2016 unless a new tax revenue plan is approved for the next fiscal year.

With the status of important institutions like hospitals and public universities potentially affected by the change, the governor referenced in his TV address that public college athletics programs like the LSU Tigers could also be shut down if their respective institutions had to declare for bankruptcy.

Edward's words do seem like an extreme scenario and a political power play to shake the state into approval of the proposed tax increases, but there could be long-lasting consequences if any schools within the state's university system have to lose money.

We have heard plenty about LSU's potential troubles and have covered here its effect on the Southland Conference, but what about the G5 programs within the state's system? What will become of them if cuts go into effect?

In the short term, one of the factors most likely to be affected is recruiting. Already, three star wide receiver Jonathan Jones has decommited from Louisiana Tech's class of 2017 through a tweet in which he cited he was leaving "in light of recent political events,".

Jones' departure, besides being a smack to Louisiana Tech's signing class for next year, is not a good sign for in-state talent staying at home for smaller public programs.

While LSU will continue to be biggest force in recruiting in the state, someone who could sneak up on a few teams is the Tulane Green Wave. With their 2016 class ranked by as the 83rd best in the nation, the private university in New Orleans is working its way slowly into the upper part of G5 recruiting.

If teams like Louisiana-Lafayette are already holding sanctions that limit their recruiting abilities and the potential budget cuts, Tulane stands to have the most to gain in the area. Their immunity from cuts because of their status as a private institution turns them into a more attractive option. Without the need for state aid, they have a chance to sway recruits that want a more safe option that's close to home.

The only downside would be the admission standards that the potential Green Wave players would have to meet, as incoming students face some of the toughest admissions standards in the state that they don't face at public colleges.

Financially, most of the teams should be fine after cuts. Both Louisiana Tech and ULL have built over their history a large donor base that can help shoulder at least some of the cuts. Despite more than 50 percent of their budget in Subsidy, the Bulldogs would still not have the lowest state school budget in the FBS.

Louisiana-Monroe is not so lucky. The Warhawks ran their department with the smallest budget in the FBS in 2014. University president Nick Bruno has approached athletics with a very conservative and low spending philosophy during his time at ULM, very seldom opening the university's pocketbook for improvement.

Without changes to spending philosophy, that could mean death of Warhawks football if there are barely enough funds to fund the university itself.

Lacking the donor base other schools in the university system have, one possibility could be ULM merging with ULL if the situation gets dire with funding. This has happened in the past in Georgia, where Georgia State absorbed Georgia Perimeter College during January 2015, turning it into a satellite campus.

In the fully plausible situation that the Louisiana university system has to consolidate schools, Louisiana-Monroe seems like the most likely to be forced into that situation.

Tulane once again has everything to gain from all of this. With the rest of the public schools facing a bevy of cuts, they have free reign to build their program upward without being dependent on government subsidies.

The bigger picture for each school will clear up as we get closer to the end of the current budget period on April 30. If nothing is done by the state by that point, the college football landscape in Louisiana could see some major changes in the next few seasons.