Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2014

KU Student Senate votes to eliminate student fee for athletics

March 12, 2014


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Kansas University's Student Senate voted today to eliminate entirely a nearly 35-year-old subsidy to the athletics department.

The vote, if upheld by KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, means that future students would have to hold a referendum to reinstate the fee. The Senate passed it as part of their regular review of all student fees.

The $25-per-semester fee helps fund women's and nonrevenue sports at KU. It began in the late 1970s as a way to help KU comply with Title IX, a law protecting gender equity in education that requires universities to support women's sports.

Student leaders have said that the burgeoning revenues of Kansas Athletics Inc., the operating arm of the athletics department, are large enough to support women's sports without a subsidy paid by students. The athletics department has said the fees are necessary to support Title IX and nonrevenue sports.

The lion's share of athletics revenue comes from NCAA and conference distributions, television contracts, ticket sales and donations. In 2013 the student subsidy amounted to $1.1 million of the department's $93.7 million in total revenue.

Speaking against cutting the fee, student senator Patrick Jacquinot said he wanted to keep the relationship between the Senate and student athletes positive and show that students supported all athletes. Student body president Marcus Tetwiler called the move to cut "progressive" and said it would support students across the university by freeing up funds.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will now have to decide whether to uphold the students' vote or veto their proposal.

Adding a hiccup to the process is a 2004 agreement signed by then-athletics director Lew Perkins and former student body president Andrew Knopp.

The agreement gave the athletics department Allen Fieldhouse seats designated as student seating in return for the department taking over bond payment on a student recreation center expansion. As part of the deal, the agreement set a $20 minimum for the student athletic fee until the bonds mature, which will be in 2027, according to the KU public affairs office.

KU has said through spokesman Jack Martin that administration considers the agreement binding. In an email sent to Gray-Little, Tetwiler and others, Knopp told the chancellor that he considered the agreement a letter of intent, not a fully negotiated legal contract.

He also also noted that he had expected the bond repayments for the rec center to be much higher based on the agreement, and so he thought the bond repayment period would be much shorter and with it the length of the agreement on student fees.

Gray-Little would not comment on whether she would consider vetoing the student vote or will leave the decision intact.

Before this year's student government, a 2009 Student Senate committee considered eliminating the fees but decided not to out of fear that then-Chancellor Robert Hemenway would veto a cut in the fee.


Bob Reinsch 4 years, 2 months ago

I don't think the KU Student Senate considered the long term ramifications of this action. How will this affect student seating at basketball and football games? What about the bonds on the student rec center? Will KU consider an "activity ticket" such as we see in high schools for those students that want to attend sporting events, but at a premium price? Time will tell.

Sam Crow 4 years, 2 months ago

The solution should be simple. Increase the cost of student mens basketball tickets an equal amount of the loss in dollars. Charge students admission to non revenue sports events. Remove students from any board or committee related to the athletic department. Let them vote again next year.

To make up the loss, student tickets to mens basketball would cost about $60 per game. If they dont want to buy them, the public sure does.

Begin making non revenue sports stand on their own financially. Charge market prices to attend womens games. And for those womens soccer games the previous writer referred to, begin charging $20. Then the fee committee can explain to those team members why no one attends their games.

Maybe thousands of students would suddenly get involved in their mock student government. 

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 2 months ago

or keep the fee and get rid of mens basketball and football, they have a low graduation rate and bring down the overall GPA of student athletes.

Sam Crow 4 years, 2 months ago

Since most such players are african-american, one must wonder if there is a racial component in your comment.

John Graham 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow Amy, how wrong you are. If you are going criticize objective data please have facts not just your obvious personal bias as the basis of your criticism. Both the football team and mens basketball team graduation rates are well above the general student population graduation rate. You have repeatedly criticized sports, particularly the basketball team in several posts. It is your right to be biased against the team, but don't make claims that are factually incorrect like your statements about graduation rates. You just make yourself look stupid.

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