The Student Government Association (SGA) is considering a proposal today from Athletics Director Ryan Ivey, who has asked for the support of SGA in raising the athletics fee paid by students each year by $50.
Although some SGA senators have suggested the fee is nominal, this is far from the case. Along with other increases in tuition and fees, an additional $50 per year for a service most students neither enjoy nor value – which has nothing to do with furthering educational objectives – is significant. More than that, however, it is symbolic of the university administration’s lack of respect for student dollars.
Many of the goals mentioned by Ivey – addressing the “lack of office space, gender equity, lack of summer programs and a low number of full-time employees” – are admirable. But this is nothing more than a good marketing pitch. The real issue is the large gap between University Athletics’ projected budget and estimated expenses, a $65,000 deficit APSU students are now expected to cover.
The university administration is asking students to make an extremely risky investment in a program with abysmal returns on investment. Any private investor would balk at a nearly $80,000 increase to an athletics program that spends a significant amount of its budget on a team with the “longest active losing streak in Division I football (27).”
The obsession with funding football in lieu of diverting resources to better performing programs such as baseball, basketball, tennis, cross country and others has not only been a waste of student dollars, it has also been a cost on university morale.
“We should all take it upon ourselves to go out to the students and ask them how they feel about it,” SGA President-elect Frank Burns was quoted as saying.
Fortunately for SGA, this task is extremely simple. They only need to look to the consistently vacant student section in the shiny new Fortera Stadium.
University Athletics is asking students to use their limited educational resources to fund a wasteful program. And while athletics is likely to raise the fee with or without the approval of student government, SGA has promised to represent the interests of students, and no other entity. They are being called on to demonstrate that commitment today. Hopefully they make the right choice.
Thom Murphy is a senior French major and is currently working as a communications intern in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as an SGA Senator for the College of Arts & Letters. Twitter: @thomdit