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Kansas University's Student Senate has been taking a close look at the fees students pay directly to Kansas Athletics Inc., which add up to more than $1 million every year. The question: With all the other money the athletics department takes in, are the student fees necessary?
KU students pay $25 every semester to help pay for women's and non-revenue sports. The total amount paid to Kansas Athletics varies from year to year depending on enrollment, but generally falls between $1 million and $2 million.
As a fraction of Kansas Athletics' overall revenue — at $73.8 million for the year — the revenue from student fees is fairly modest.
For the 2012 fiscal year the athletics department made more than $19 million in ticket sales, $6.5 million in broadcast and television rights, $16 million in private contributions and $14 million in NCAA and conference distributions, among other sources of revenue.
Yet all that money raises the question of whether the student fee is needed to support women's and non-revenue sports.
Marcus Tetwiler, KU's student body president, said that the Student Senate is "looking critically at all fees" students pay. "We're trying to be the most responsible stewards possible," he said. For the Senate, the examination of the athletics fee is part of a broader critical look at its budget and finances.
Members of KU's student Senate have been meeting with the athletics department to discuss the issue. They've also met with other student governing bodies of other Big 12 universities recently. Among the topics of discussion was the "role of student subsidies within the league," Tetwiler said.
Two other Big 12 heavyweights, the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma, receive no money from students or the universities, according to data from USA Today. Both schools, however, brought in tens of millions more dollars in total sports revenue than KU.
Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony said that KU student fees are relatively small compared to those at other universities. He said KU student fees helped maintain Olympic and women's sports and also keep costs low to students attending university sports events.
Previous student senates have flirted with axing the fees. In 2009, a senate committee considered cutting the student fee to athletics, but opted against it for fear that then-Chancellor Robert Hemenway would veto any cuts.
At the time Hemenway opposed cutting the student fee on the grounds that it supported women's sports and helped the university comply with Title IX regulations, which aim to ensure gender equality in athletics and other aspects of higher education.