USA Today published a report Sept. 22 on how student fees help pay for intercollegiate athletics. Is it fair for the student who detests football to pay for it? Georgia State students, for example, pay $257 a semester for athletic fees.
We asked James Dutton, president of the Georgia State Student Government Association, and Amy Perko, executive director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, to weigh in.
First, we love our football team. Our homecoming is Saturday, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Students are pumped up about playing at the Georgia Dome, but at the same time -- being an urban campus -- most of our students work for every dime they have to pay to the university. The HOPE scholarship does not pay for student fees, so that's where we feel the pocketbook attack.
Our student fees are around $850, and $257 is for athletics. The rec-center fee is $13, which is a great deal for us. The students look at that $257 and say that’s a whole week of waiting tables. At the same time they are out there tailgating and excited when the team wins.
In my opinion, having football at Georgia State is a net positive. There are some students who came to Georgia State because it is a research institution and they say, "Wait a minute, I didn’t come here for football." But they are in the minority.
The commission’s fundamental position is there needs to be transparency with institutional fees going to athletics. U.S. higher education is under unprecedented pressure to be more transparent to the public and more accountable. Intercollegiate athletics cannot expect to be immune to the same standards.
Many schools have referendums as far as initiating student fees. The Knight Commission's position is not to get involved in the process; it just wants the process transparent. The commission has recommended that each institution disclose its NCAA financial report, which would show how much is being generated by athletics and how much is generated by student fees. There is large misunderstanding in the public about funding of intercollegiate athletics.
-- Compiled by Ray Glier for the AJC