Athletics fee proposal on ballot for students

Mar. 7, 2016

Jonathan Toman
[email protected]

In addition to electing student government representatives, two fee proposals will be before students come election week on March 14. The first is an increase of the athletic fee.

The athletic fee referendum seeks to pay for the expansion of the athletic department, which will include a baseball team, a women’s lacrosse team and an expanded track and field program.

To do so, the referendum proposes 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.

According to the language of the referendum, the permanent fee increase is expected to generate over $1.1 million in the first year if implemented.

Senior associate athletic director Nate Gibson said that amount will be split between five main categories. These are the anticipated yearly costs that would be funded by the fee expansion:

• Baseball Team ($255,000)
• Women’s Lacrosse Team ($148,000)
• Track and Field Team Expansion ($380,000)
• Two new full-time administrative positions in sports medicine and sports information ($103,000)
• Facilities ($225,000)

These amounts pay for coaching salaries, operations such as travel, supplies and uniforms as well as officiating, said Gibson. Similar costs for the two largest-budget current sports include men’s basketball ($196,000) and women’s basketball ($179,000).

Gibson said most UCCS sports fall between $100,000 and $120,000 per year, including volleyball, both soccer teams and softball. Men’s and women’s golf are between $60,000 and $75,000.

“I don’t want to take money away from (current sports) to add sports,” said athletic director Steve Kirkham.

Eight teams compete in baseball in the RMAC. Coupled with the club team already in existence, these two factors brought baseball to the expansion conversation.

Women’s lacrosse has been experiencing huge growth as a sport, Kirkham said. There are over 100 Division II schools with the sport, eight of whom are in the RMAC.

“Women’s lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country for women by far,” Kirkham said. “We could see that coming, and why not get ahead of the curve.”

The facilities money would be used to help construct an indoor track and turf baseball facility north of Lot 576. Kirkham said, ideally, the baseball stadium would be done by 2017-18 while the track would be finished before then.

Until these facilities are built, track and field will stay at the Grace Center (a nearby high school track) and baseball will likely rotate their games between Sky Sox stadium and Spurgeon Field while practicing at Wasson High School.

The women’s lacrosse team will play at Mountain Lion Stadium, which will see a retrofit of the 11-year-old turf this summer.

This expansion of the athletic department is expected to bring 133 new students to UCCS. Gibson said that means 12 teachers coming to campus – five tenure track, two instructors and five lecturers.

The expansion would also bring 25 part-time student employees to the athletic department, which Gibson said is a conservative estimate.

Gibson provided fee costs for students at other schools in Colorado, including several in the RMAC.

• CU-Boulder: $28.50/semester ($2.38/hour on 12-hour load)
• MSU Denver: $34.20/semester ($2.85/hour on 12-hour load)
• UCCS: $4.85/hour *Current Fee
• Fort Lewis: $8 per credit hour
• UCCS: $9/hour *Proposed Fee
• Western State: $9.10 per credit hour
• Adams State: $11.88 per credit hour
• CSU-Pueblo: $12.65 per credit hour
• Colorado Mesa: $15 per credit hour

Gibson said the athletic department has reached out to SGA as well as club sports to discuss the referendum.

The only question posed by any of these sources is the idea that students who don’t attend athletic events shouldn’t have to pay, Gibson said.

“There’s a lot more to it,” he said. “It’s a very low cost for what students get in return and the value added to campus.”

If the referendum doesn’t pass, the programs will go on, Kirkham said. The new facilities won’t be likely, and decisions will be made on how to make the athletic department leaner, with changes to events like Blackout.

“We’re still playing,” Kirkham said.