North Texas Daily

UNT athletic fee increase goes to student vote this week

UNT athletic fee increase goes to student vote this week

Wren Baker is the University of North Texas's athletic director. Baker transferred as athletic director from the University of Missouri.

UNT athletic fee increase goes to student vote this week
December 04
16:54 2017

UNT students will vote this week on a potential $4.25 per credit hour net increase in student fees after the Graduate Student Council and Student Government Association passed a resolution allowing for a student referendum on the change. 

Graduate and undergraduate students will be able to vote on the measure today through Wednesday, Dec. 6. If passed, the increase will go to the Board of Regents in February 2018 to take effect in fall 2018 depending on the regents’ approval.

The measure proposes a $6.25 increase in the intercollegiate athletic fee and a $2.00 decrease in the Student Service Fee.

Both the GSC and SGA had to pass a resolution for the measure to make it to a student referendum. SGA passed the measure with a 24-0 vote on Nov. 15 and the GSC approved it with a 25-7 vote on Nov. 17.

“I think the reason why the resolution passed the Senate unanimously is because senators think it’s important for students to vote on this,” SGA President Barrett Cole said.

College of Engineering Technology Senator Jeff Gittle was the first to introduce the measure to the GSC after athletics director Wren Baker and Vice President of Student Affairs Elizabeth With approached the GSC and SGA presidents about the increase.

Any increase in student fees exceeding 10 percent must pass as a resolution in both bodies before it can be put to a student vote. The student representatives did not vote on the increase itself, but on whether students should be able to vote on the increase.

“Our role is to be the gatekeepers to make sure some crazy referendum isn’t going through,” GSC President Lynze Jones said. “It’s our senators’ jobs to consider ‘Is this something my constituents would benefit from voting on?’ I believe this is the kind of vote that should be sent to the student body for their opinions on it.”

Baker said the conversation about raising the athletic fee began in September 2017 with the support of President Smatresk and was brought to student representatives in late October. He said the amount for the increase came from balancing what the department needs and what students would be willing to pay.

For full-time students, the increase would mean a $51 or $63.75 total increase in student fees for 12 or 15-hour students, respectively.

The resolution says the increase is necessary to improve quality of life for student-athletes, to continue to provide free student tickets to football games and for the university to stay competitive in state and national sports.

“We know we can do more with less,” Baker said. “We’ve done that this semester. But we have student-athletes who still don’t have access to the best equipment [and] the best facilities. Our facilities are pretty dilapidated, and we want to provide the best experience we can.”

Baker presented his case for the larger fee to both GSC and SGA members in separate senate meetings, with the help of a few student-athletes who gave their personal viewpoints on why they feel the increase is necessary.

“Being able to reward student-athletes and give them an opportunity to actually have an adequate practice and to be able to host meets here, it’s a big deal,” current graduate student and former North Texas soccer player Hailey Sutton said. “I think this fee is going to be very substantial for the entire university.”

Baker said fees would also go toward buying marching band members new uniforms and shoes, along with contributions to spirit squads.

The athletic director said he believes that part of the role his department can play is ensuring people are aware of UNT’s academic profile, which ranks favorably among many area universities.

“I think one of the reasons it isn’t perceived that way is because at this institution we [athletics] haven’t represented like we want to,” Baker said.

Baker said his ultimate goal is to make sure all UNT’s athletic teams rank in the top third of Conference USA teams in terms of budget and facilities. He said about half of the teams are currently in these spots, and the increase would allow nearly all of them to be in the top third.

The reason for the $2 decrease in the student service fee is because the athletic department currently takes approximately the equivalent of $2 from the student service fee, which it will no longer do if the new increase is passed. The 62.5 percent increase in the athletic fee would translate to about a $3.5 million increase in funding for athletics over the course of an academic year, Baker said. The largest portions of the new funds are expected to go to athlete wellness, facilities enhancements and marketing.

The exact figure for what athletics received from the student service fee is $2.13, meaning the change would also free the 13 cents per credit hour for other uses. The amount would total approximately $70,000 to $100,000 if enrollment stays constant, which the Student Services Fee committee would decide how to allocate based on semesterly presentations from organizations on how they benefit UNT.

“Our job is to make sure people know the importance of voting,” Cole said. “Students will have to pay the increased fee if the referendum passes, whether they voted or not.”

Students received a link via email today allowing them to reach the online voting portal to cast their vote for or against the fee increase. Results will be announced after voting closes on Dec. 6.

Senior Sports Writer Matt Brune contributed to this report. 

Featured image: UNT Athletic Director Wren Baker poses for a photo at Apogee Stadium. File.

About Author

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder is the Senior News Writer for the North Texas Daily.

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  1. BrokeCollegeStudent
    BrokeCollegeStudent December 05, 09:42

    Why should we pay more to improve the athletes college life? So many college students are already struggling and take out loans/work throughout their college career just to afford it. This increase only helps a select few students and not the student body as a whole.

    Reply to this comment
  2. SMH
    SMH December 05, 14:42

    In 2016, the UNT athletic department received $20,258,314 in “athletic welfare” ($10,713,470 in student athletic fees and $9,544,844 from general university funds). Over the last 12 years, the athletic department has received over $83.6M in student athletic fees (really “athletic taxes” since students have no choice in not paying them).

    Once again, the athletic department is asking for more money from UNT students to cover its budget deficits. It’s not surprising they sneaked this vote in during a time when students are busy preparing for finals. Another sad example in higher education of the tail wagging the dog.

    Reply to this comment
    • Head on Right
      Head on Right December 05, 22:27

      Yet some how the SGA voted unanimously in favor of this increase… if you have such a problem with the athletics department wanting more money for better facilities and providing students and fans with a better experience then let’s get rid of all athletic programs. That will save you less than a hundred a semester and lose a lot of money and students in the process, it will lose a lot of coaches, staff and degree programs. Oh and also this will make fewer students want to attend college here at UNT. Athletics gives opportunities to students that might not get them otherwise, and it also gives the student body (especially at UNT because athletic events are free to attend) events on campus to watch, as well as, teams and students to support. Please do not be narrowsided in thinking that this increase is only for UNT Athletics to cover their mistakes, but that this increase was proposed to to better the facilities student athletes use, better the facilities students and visitors use for sporting events and the overall quality that people see and know as The University of North Texas.

      Reply to this comment

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