Athletic fee illustrates absence of concern for student opinion

Mar. 7, 2016

Scribe Staff
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It’s ironic, really. Last week we wrote an editorial about how student voice matters and can have an impact.

This week, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t.

The reason is the athletic fee referendum that will go on the ballot for students to vote on in a week. The referendum proposes an expansion of the athletic department, which would add a baseball team, a women’s lacrosse team and an expanded track and field program.

To pay for all that, the referendum will ask students if they will support an 86 percent increase in the per credit hour athletics fee students pay, raising the fee from $4.85 per hour to $9 per hour. For a student with 12 credit hours, that means an increase from $58.20 per semester to $108 a semester.

This editorial is not to take a stand on the fee. It’s to illustrate the complete lack of concern administrators have for student opinion when it comes to this fee.

Before they had the money from students to support the expansion, the athletic department moved forward with the plan. These teams will play next year, no matter what.

The track and field coach, Brandon Masters, was hired on Sept. 10.

Women’s lacrosse coach Christine Hatton was hired on Nov. 9.

UCCS hired the baseball coach, Dave Hajek, on Nov. 24.

The CU Board of Regents listens to the proposed athletic expansion last semester. Archives | The Scribe
The CU Board of Regents listens to the proposed athletic expansion last semester.
Archives | The Scribe

These coaches, and the athletic department, moved forward, despite no recorded student support. Now, retroactively, they are asking (telling?) students to fund a decision they already made.

The decision has already been made for us. We’re having these programs, whether we like it or not. The result of the student vote doesn’t matter.

We’re being voluntold.

In discussions with athletic director Steve Kirkham and senior associate athletic director Nate Gibson, they told the Scribe that the idea for an expansion like this has been around for six years.

“This timing seemed to make the most sense,” Gibson said.

He went on to say this was the earliest they could pursue such an expansion.

It seems odd, that after six years of thinking about it, the decision to expand still had nothing to do with students.

There has been almost no opposition to the fee. Again, we won’t take a stand on that. But it’s because no one knows about it.

“It’s gotta be a student driven thing,” Kirkham said. “If students don’t want it, we wouldn’t be interested in supporting it.”

Kirkham said that athletics has worked with Student Government Association to discuss the fee, coming to around three SGA meetings. Other groups consulted include athletes, members of club sports programs and members of the sport management program.

Those four demographics do not provide an accurate representation of the entire student body. Talking to just these groups of students is not equal to asking (and receiving) the support of all students.

Of course students involved in sports will support the expansion of athletics. But there are at least 10,000 other students that aren’t in these groups.

Don’t tell us this is the full student opinion.

At the SGA debate (which barely anyone attended), the question was asked of presidential and vice presidential candidates: Is it at all concerning that this decision has already been made, and athletics is now retroactively asking for funding?

Not one candidate said yes. A few hovered over expressing concern, before pivoting and promoting the benefits of the referendum.

We would take a stand, either in support or against this fee, but clearly it doesn’t matter.