I think they were generally fair questions, certainly about things I'd want to know as a board member. Some people want to make like, "hey, it's secured by athletic department revenues not taxpayer (public) money." That's not exactly true. The UofA is on the hook for those bonds, period. It's not like the athletic department is a separate legal entity that can issue bonds.
Because of that, how much a borrower currently has in debt, whether bonds or other obligations, and how liquid a borrower is affects their bond rating, which affects interest rates and the abilitiy to issue more bonds, i.e. take on more debt, in the future, whether the future project is to add gold faucets to the basketball practice facility or to build a wing on a physics building.
Last July Moody's gave the UA a "Aa2" rating for some bonds being re-issued last year. That's pretty good, their equivalent of S&P's and Fitch's "AA," but it is only their third highest rating (behind "AAA" and "Aa1").
Borrowing another $200MM can affect the school's liquidity, which could negatively affect future ratings. Moody's comments at the time included the following boilerplate:
WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN
- Deterioration in operating performance, including performance of
patient care enterprise
- Decline in unrestricted liquidity given already thin expense cushion
- Material erosion of balance sheet cushion combined with a marked
increase in financial leverage beyond the current expectations
Those are (always) legit concerns for the UofA, not just its athletic department, especially given relatively flat revenues from the state budget going to higher ed. Maybe the questions should have been posed a few months ago instead of the week of the vote but they are fair questions, nevertheless.