Archive for Monday, December 9, 2013

KU’s Student Senate examining student fees paid to athletics association

December 9, 2013


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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.


Patricia Davis 4 years ago

I am appalled that students have to pay fees to the athletic department since I think athletics should actually be helping to support the mission of the university. The first place the university could save money is to the reduce the ridiculous salaries of our coaches.

Bruce Bertsch 4 years ago

Keep in mind that a reduction in or elimination of the see will likely cause an increase in the price of tickets to football and basketball for students. KU athletics, Inc. could also reduce the number of student tickets and sell more bball tickets to the general public to make up the difference.

Sam Crow 4 years ago

Once again for the uninformed, or those that refuse to accept facts, the so called "extravagant" or "ridiculous salaries" are not paid for out of tuition, student fees, state funds or anything else similar. Salaries, expenses, and most other costs are paid from funds derived from such things as television contracts and donations to the athletic department, as noted in the article.

However the ridiculous salaries and other benefits paid to professors who can never get fired for performance are paid by the university.

Also, student fees subsidize the low cost of the tickets the students have at games. There are many many student fees that can be reduced that are controversial and simply political in the generic sense.

When I walk through an airport on either the east or west coast, and I have a shirt with the Jayhawk on it, many people note it by saying such things as "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk". That is not due to the liberal arts department. When a graduate interviews for a job in Atlanta and the university is instantly known, its not because of the math department. When donations flowed to every department of the university after the Orange Bowl and National Championship year, it wasnt because of the psychology department.

A strong athletic program gives a connection to the university to the pharmacist working in Oregon, the sales rep in Arizona, the teacher in Florida, or the lawyer in Maine, who graduated from KU.

And that helps the university.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years ago

Keep telling your self that, don't let the facts get in your way.

Sam Crow 4 years ago

Typical response from a liberal. Call somebody wrong without proving it.

So Amy, what is incorrect?

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years ago

You claim that going to a college with a "big" sports team helps you get recognized, there is no proof. If you have a group of people one with from Harvard, Yale, Penn and KU who do you think is going to be thought more highly? NOt the KU person whose school had a basketball program.

And your claim "A strong athletic program gives a connection to the university to the pharmacist working in Oregon, the sales rep in Arizona, the teacher in Florida, or the lawyer in Maine, who graduated from KU." Works for any school, if someone is walking around with a Baker University shirt on and someone else went there they will have a connection too.

Sam Crow 4 years ago

As you note, I wrote an athletic program makes the university recognized. I did not write it would be thought of more highly. That said, you assume that all academic programs at Harvard are better than those at KU. Anyone would much rather hire a KU MBA than one from Princeton.

The day someone walks through the Seattle airport with a Baker shirt on and strangers recognize it, let me know. The day the Baker alumni association in Dallas organizes a meeting around watching a Baker athletic event, send me the invitation. However, such is the case with KU.

The Jayhawk is one of the most recognized logo/mascots in the country. It is not because of the political science program.

You need to get out of Lawrence and experience new things.

Luke Maxfield 4 years ago

There are a few things to consider with this issue, and unfortunately it's all so broad that one comment simply can't do it justice. In any case, there are few ways to approach the issue. That is, from a student's financial perspective and from the university's perspective.

Firstly, a student could shrug it off and think, 'Well it's only 25 bucks. Compared to the other thousands I pay for tuition, it's almost nonexistent." Note, however, that if every fee went like this, soon a student would have hundreds of 'only 25 dollar fees,' and surely those would add up rapidly. This is why, 'being good stewards,' as Tetwiler said, is so important in preventing exorbitant student fees.

Secondly, one should consider whether the Athletics Department even needs the additional revenue, especially considering it is only a small percentage of their total revenue each year in order to comply with Title IX. In order to make an informed opinion, however, I would need to see precisely how much cash is allocated to programs specifically related to Title IX compliance.

I won't speak on whether these fees are justified or not, but I will say that as a general rule, wasteful, unnecessary, or exorbitant fees should always be examined and reduced if able to without reducing the quality of the programs they support.

Rob Chestnut 4 years ago

The student fees that subsidize athletics is the price of admission for being in a BCS conference. As was stated by Mr. Marchiony, the fees are in line with many of the other Big 12 schools.

That being said, I think the bigger issue is where does this all go in the future? Football is the dominant revenue source for BCS schools heavily driven by TV contracts. However, football also garners an every growing amount of money to sustain. Net revenue producing sports are no longer able to fund sports not able to sustain themselves.

We know that KU is currently challenged on Title IX compliance, so it is looking for any and all methods to pay for these costs that are mandated. Rock Chalk Park was a collaborative project that was partially subsidized by the taxpayers of Lawrence. Student fees are another source. The value of the brand is clearly important to the University. But, what transparency should be required by the athletic department given it has sources of funds that are not internally generated?

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