Tuesday, December 01, 2015

students foot the bill for college sports - how some are fighting back


WaPo |  At Texas A&M University, the president’s proposal to charge all 50,000 students $72 per year to help pay for a $450 million football stadium renovation brought protests.

At Clemson University, the athletic director’s idea to charge all 17,000 students $350 per year to help him keep up with competition brought pushback from student government.

At the University of Kansas, a walk-on golfer’s push to eliminate a $50 fee all 17,000 students paid the increasingly wealthy athletic department brought a strong — and to some students, vindictive — response from administrators.

And at many of America’s largest public universities, athletic departments making millions more every year from surging television contracts, luxury suite sales and endorsements continue to take money from tens of thousands of students who will never set foot in stadiums or arenas.

Mandatory student fees for college athletic departments are common across the country. Often small line items of a couple hundred dollars on long, complex tuition bills, these fees make millions for athletic departments at larger colleges.

In 2014, students at 32 schools paid a combined $125.5 million in athletic fees, according to a Washington Post examination of financial records at 53 public universities in the “Power Five,” the five wealthiest conferences in college sports.

To rich athletic departments, these fees represent guaranteed revenue streams that, unlike ticket sales or booster donations, are unaffected by on-field success. To less flush departments, increasing student fees is one way to keep up.

Athletic directors defend fees as well worth what their programs give back to schools.

“Athletics is a common good, bringing people together, developing relationships, unifying the institution, bringing fantastic exposure,” said Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage, whose department charges undergraduates $657 annually.