PRESS RELEASE – MARCH 9, 2020
For immediate release
For more information:
Dr. B. David Ridpath, Ed.D.
The Drake Group
Another Reason Why Congress Must Help Intercollegiate Athletics…
NEW HAVEN, CT. –
On March 8, 2020, NBCNews.com broke a story on the extent to which college students were subsidizing athletic programs at their institutions. Not only were the mandatory student fees reported as high as $2,340 per year, but at many of these institutions, students had no idea the extent to which the fees they were paying were supporting athletic programs. Authors Enright, Lehren, and Longoria reported:
“Katelyn Waltemyer, a junior at James Madison University in Virginia, was stunned by what she learned during a seemingly simple assignment for the campus newspaper: dissecting the school’s tuition bill.
Buried in each student’s yearly cost of almost $23,000 was a required fee of $2,340 solely to finance the school’s sports teams. The money was not for using the gym, or for funding student clubs and activities. It was only for underwriting the costs of athletic teams – and a student could only find out about it by visiting and searching the school’s website.
“For someone who doesn’t care a whole lot about athletics, it seems a bit much for me to have to contribute,” said Waltemyer. “I have two jobs. I’m a full-time student. And I’m paying for athletes’ scholarships? To me, that hurt.”
David Ridpath, President of The Drake Group, stated, “This is not new news, but NBCNews.com should be commended for researching and producing a searchable database listing annual athletic fees for the 2018-19 school year at 230 NCAA Division I institutions. Excessive mandatory student athletics fees are just another example of the need for Congress to take a closer examination at the relationship between intercollegiate athletics and higher education, as proposed by U.S. Representatives Donna Shalala (FL-D) and Ross Spano (FL-R). H.R. 5528, the bipartisan Congressional Advisory Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Act, will empower an independent congressional commission to fully review, analyze and report on the state of the NCAA and athletic programs and how they affect higher education.”
The Drake Group has persistently encouraged the adoption of restraints on the use of student fees and other institutional subsidies to fund intercollegiate athletics. Access to higher education has become the focus of policymakers nationwide as college costs and student debt have climbed to all-time highs in recent years. Most (98 percent) of NCAA athletic programs are not able to cover their costs via external sources and are heavily subsidized through student fees and general fund subsidies, which are increasing at a rate much higher than tuition and which are propped up by $30 billion in federal Pell grants. Thus, allocations to athletics directly impact college affordability for the general student body and Congress has the right and obligation to examine the extent to which federal funds are contributing to athletics program subsidies and student debt.”
Ridpath continued, “The Drake Group is not against student fee support for extracurricular programming but excessive support for athletics must be controlled. Currently, there are few constraints on athletics expenditures except for limits on athlete scholarships. We aren’t controlling multi-million dollar coaches salaries and contract buy-outs. We aren’t controlling the building of lavish, athletes-only facilities designed to attract talented teenage high school students. We aren’t controlling lavish recruiting expenses where some institutions spend thousands of dollars on weekend entertainment of high school prospects. Need I go on?”
On most campuses student fee support of athletics is not fully transparent to the tuition paying customer. The Drake Group Position Statement on Student Fee and Institutional Subsidy Allocations to Fund Intercollegiate Athletics details the issues and recommends the following:
- Individual student tuition bills should be fully transparent listing the amount of the student fee being used to fund athletics;
- Institutions and/or government agencies should adopt a percentage cap on that portion of student fees supporting intercollegiate athletics or a dollar limit per student FTE;
- Institutions should require student referenda to approve the use of student fees for intercollegiate athletics, such referenda to occur at least once every four years and in any year in which an increase in such allocation is proposed; and
- The NCAA should own all national championships including the FBS College Football Playoff with all Division I institutions sharing equally the income from such properties in order to relieve current pressure to increase student fee subsidization of athletics programs.
Dr. Ridpath concluded, “The NCAA collegiate athletics system is badly broken and needs to be fixed. A reasonable first step is the proposed bipartisan Congressional Commission.”
 Merritt Enright, Andrew W. Lehren and Jaime Longoria. “Hidden figures:College students may be paying thousands in athletic fees and not know it.” NBCNews.com (March 8, 2020). Retrieve at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/education/hidden-figures-college-students-may-be-paying-thousands-athletic-fees-n1145171
Media and other queries may be directed to Drake expert B. David Ridpath Ph.D.