SFC recommends the athletics department wean its ‘dependency’ on student fees
On Jan. 21, the Student Fee Committee conducted one of its many initial budget allocations meetings for the 2012–13 academic year. During the meeting on Saturday, the committee focused their discussion on the budget for the athletics department. The SFC working group tasked with composing a proposal for the athletics budget, recommended a decrease in the student fees being funneled into the athletics department.
Sean Green, a member of the SFC athletics working group, said, “The Student Fee Committee is looking at reducing student fee support for athletics…in part because we feel the athletics budget is too dependent on the student fee.”
The SFC proposed a student-fee budget of $3.63 million for 2012–13, a 6.7 percent decrease from the 2011–12 student-fee budget of $3,875,840. For the last five years, there has been an average of a 9.4 percent increase of the student fee being funneled into the athletics department.
“They have a mind for what they want to do in the future with the athletics budget,” said Torre Chisholm, athletics director at PSU. “What we’re trying to figure out within the athletics program is how to sustain a highly successful program with dwindling resources.”
The SFC working group’s draft proposal for the athletics budget adheres to a base level of funding that reflects stipulations that Portland State created when the athletics department joined the Big Sky Conference.
In the fall of 1994, then-PSU President Judith Ramley created an ad hoc committee intending to investigate the possibility of joining the Big Sky Conference and moving from a Division II to a Division I/I-AA standing.
“By the point of full implementation, the program will cost $2.6 million more than the $2.7 million current year base,” according to a statement included by the ad hoc committee on the Big Sky Option final report. “This substantial increase will need to be matched by new revenues that are not university funds or student incidental fees.”
“We determined that the fiscal year 1995 baseline was an appropriate starting point for a funding model,” said Mart Stewart-Smith, a member of the SFC athletics working group and the SFC chair. “Fiscal year 1995 represents the acceptable funding level for athletics in the move to the Big Sky Conference, according to the recommendation by both the ad hoc committee and the Intercollegiate Athletic Board at the time.”
The SFC athletics working group took the FY95 base line, adjusted that figure by the Higher Education Price Index, included ticket value (which factors in the cost of each student attending one sporting event in both the fall and winter terms), and a transitional subsidy, which dampens the transitional blow between funding models, and arrived at their recommended student fee budget of $3,630,000.
“As stewards of the incidental fee, the SFC is obligated to determine the costs and benefits of each funded area,” said Stewart-Smith. “That said, anytime an annual increase to any organization’s budget is consistently in the six figures, it is necessary to reevaluate the organization’s funding model.”
“It’s nothing against what they’re trying to do as a group, because they think that’s the right thing to do for the SFC and students overall,” said Chisholm. “But it has real impact on our ability to be successful academically and athletically within the athletic program so we’re just trying to figure out how to come to a common ground.”
Mart Stewart-Smith met with Torre Chisholm Monday, Jan. 23, to discuss the athletics department’s appeal of the SFC recommendation for the athletics department’s initial allocation.