IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa officials say its athletics department will give $2 million to the school this year.

The announcement comes over a year after university President Bruce Harreld asked the department to find ways to use its revenue to further the institution’s core academic goals, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported .

“Making these financial contributions to the university is a tangible way of demonstrating Hawkeye pride and our commitment to the importance of public higher education,” said Gary Barta, the university’s athletics director. “Intercollegiate athletics is nothing without an esteemed university as its foundation.”

The funds are less than 2 percent of the athletic department’s nearly $120 million budget and will be spent on recreational services, diversity programming and student life.

The department also gave the university $2 million last year.

Some state lawmakers have said the athletic department’s decision is a step in the right direction to help offset budget cuts. But others worry the additional revenue may spur legislators to continue cutting funds.

“I’d like to see that funding grow larger and become something that can be counted on by the university,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines. “But I don’t want the legislature to look at this as a way to get out of funding the university.”

The state’s three public universities have lost a total of more than $30 million due to funding reductions by state lawmakers. The University of Iowa lost more than $15 million in the budget cuts and now has just under $217 million for the 2017-18 school year.

Harreld has asked the state Board of Regents to increase tuition by 7 percent a year for the next five years to counteract the cuts.

The regents have created a Tuition Task Force to create long-term tuition strategies. The task force is expected to present a report to the board in September.

Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen,