The Utah State University Fee Board voted in a 13-10 decision to not increase the Athletics fee for the 2016-17 academic year on Wednesday in the Senate Chambers.
This year, the Athletic Department’s total budget is more than $29 million dollars — 15 percent of that revenue comes from student fees.
That number puts USU third to last place in the conference when comparing revenue from other members of the Mountain West. However, USU is about average when it comes to paying student fees to support the athletics department even when other schools with higher revenue have higher enrollment.
Zach Portman, student-at-large, said he believes USU Athletics should pursue other sources of revenue, instead of relying on the students for funding.
“Especially since we already have the highest athletics fee in the conference,” he said.
The decision about whether to increase the athletics fee revolved around the athletic department’s $500,000 deficit in the previous fiscal year.
Thomas Rogers, USUSA Athletics and Campus Recreation Vice President, said regardless of whether or not the Athletic department is in the red, people will always find excuses to or to not support Athletics.
“Whatever we can do, we should do it,” he said.
These approved fees are suggestions that go to USU President Stan Albrecht, who will give his stamp of approval or disapproval for next year’s budget. Once approved by President Albrecht, the fees then go to the Board of Trustees.
Brenna Kelly, student-at-large, corresponded with President Albrecht regarding the increase in student fees. Albrecht told Kelly in an email that he has been supportive of raising the student fees in part because he has been working to minimize or eliminate tuition increases this year.
“The proposed [Athletics] fee would be very substantially smaller than the normal tuition increase to students,” he said in the email. “If an additional fee is to be approved at some point, this might be the best year to do that.”
In other words, regardless of if the Fee Board disapproved the Athletics fee, top-down factors regarding Tier II tuition can raise tuition to make up for the the lack of approved student fees to support the Athletics Department.
Patrick Adams, Quinney College of Natural Resources Student Senator, said speculating what is going to happen in Tier II shouldn’t compromise the standards of the Fee Board because they are afraid of top-down mandates.
“Even if we don’t have an increase, we are still supporting the athletics to the tune of nearly $300 per year,” he said. “We are still trying to push the university forward.”
In related news, the Fee Board approved additional fees to support Activities ($1.27), Health Services ($1.72), and the Music and Theater program ($1) on January 27.
Editors note: Brenna Kelly is a staff member with the Utah Statesman. While it is normally our policy not to include our staff members in stories we have made the exception because Kelly is also a member of the Student Fee Board.