Regents OK $6 increase in athletic fee

| Marcus Clem reporter |

On Wednesday, June 18, the Kansas Board of Regents announced that full-time students of Pittsburg State will pay $162 more in tuition and $49 more in student fees per semester for the 2014-2015 year.
That leaves the university’s new tuition and fee package at $3,164. Tuition increased 4.8 percent relative to last year, and fees increased 8.2 percent.
The fee increase is mostly in line with votes taken by the Student Government Association during the spring 2014 semester as part of the assembly’s annual recommendations on fees.
But the athletics fee increase, which primarily provides athletic scholarships and has seen a steady rise in recent years to allow those scholarships to keep pace with cost of attendance, has happened amid some controversy.
The SGA debated the question at length during the spring 2014 semester. In February, the assembly ultimately decided to recommend a $1 increase. The Athletics Fee Council, prior to SGA’s vote, had asked for a $9 increase.
Jordan Schaper, SGA president, says that the vote for the $1 increase he supported as a senator was intended to send a message that SGA wants to limit athletics fee increases.
However, he says, a compromise solution was always the end goal.
“We all knew the administration wasn’t going to go for a $1 increase, as they generally take our recommendation and the fee council’s recommendation with similar merit,” Schaper said. “Our Athletics Department couldn’t maintain its current level of achievement or scholarship with a dollar increase every year and it would be foolish to think otherwise.”
Steve Scott, university president, says that he maintains the feelings he shared with The Collegio in February on the $1 Athletics Fee recommendation, that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” by it. That’s not enough to maintain the status quo of the university’s support for athletes, he says.
“If the fee does not keep pace with the tuition increases, then our student athletes will have their scholarship support diminished,” he said. “I don’t think that’s fair or right for those students. They work hard to represent the university; they compete at very high levels; and their performance in the classroom (as measured by degree completion rates) exceeds that of the general student body. In other words, they are a good investment for the university.”
Scott added that he sees the cost of athletics at Pittsburg State to be justifiable, especially compared to NCAA Division I “excesses.” The university participates in NCAA Division II.
“It’s important to note I do not like increasing fees nor do I like adjusting a recommendation of SGA,” he said. “Over the years, I have altered their recommendations very few times. Consequently, I see the SGA vote as a means of sending the administration a signal of concern about athletic fees. That vote has already caused us to begin discussing how we could take a different approach to supporting our student athletes.”
The President’s Council eventually set the fee increase at $6; the overall figure has been set at $157.
Before the final vote of approval by the Board of Regents, the university sent a detailed breakdown of all fee changes and a Justification for Change statement for each one to the regents.
The statements have since been published in a document on the regents’ website.
“In recent years, the costs associated with attending the university have risen steadily,” the document reads. “These costs, such as tuition and room/board, have a direct impact on the funding of an athletic scholarship.”
There was also a discrepancy on the parking fee between SGA and the administration.
SGA did not adopt a recommendation for a parking increase, and so the President’s Council, led by Scott, acted to raise the parking fee by $2. The overall fee is now set at $33.
That amount is paid by all students. Those who wish to actually park on campus must pay for a “brown” permit if they are not on-campus residents. On-campus residents pay for an “orange” pass as part of their housing contract.
“The change in the parking fee is to support the increased surface maintenance needs,” the Justification for Change statement reads, “as installations age and as paved parking services have greatly expanded with recent parking enhancement projects have been completed.”

The entire online document may be read at: http://www.kansasregents.org/resources/PDF/3040-FY2015TuitionFinal.pdf

This story has been updated.

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