Athletic spending sees steady increase after five-year, student-approved fee referendum

Senior News Reporter

A recently released data report shows that institutional funding for Texas State athletics per athlete has increased by 158 percent over the past seven years, which officials attribute to the ever-growing athletic fee.

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics helps ensure athletics programs work within the “educational mission” of their respective universities, according to its website. Funding for athletics per athlete is allocated from the institution’s general fund, state or government appropriations, student fees or other indirect sources, according to the commission. This funding has increased from $20,031 in 2005 to $51,666 in 2012, according to the report.

Gordon Thyberg, associate vice president of Budgeting, Financial Planning and Analysis, said the yearly increase in institutional funding is due to the athletics fee, which has been growing over the past five years.

According to a Feb. 13, 2008 press release from University News Service, students voted to increase the athletics fee by $10 per semester credit hour in $2-per-year increments over five years. The 2013-2014 academic year was the last for the fee increase.

Texas State students pushed for the fee increase in order for the athletics program, and football team specifically, to achieve greater recognition and support, said Bill Nance, vice president of Finance and Support Services.

 “At Texas State, there was a conscious move to move up to 1A football or FBS football, which requires additional resources,” Nance said.

Nance said the athletic fee increase received the highest voter turn out and was passed by the largest margin for a student referendum to date.

Bobcat Stadium has undergone expansion and other athletic facilities have been upgraded as a result of the fee increase, Nance said.

The spending increase reflects the investment in athletic facilities, Thyberg said.

The athletics department receives $3 million from the general university budget every academic year, Nance said. Unlike other universities, such as the University of Texas, that can rely on revenue from ticket sales, televised broadcasts and donations, Texas State primarily relies on fee revenue, Thyberg said.

“The students were the ones clearly behind the move and the fee has generated quite a bit of revenue for the athletic department,” Nance said. “(The athletic department) has been using it to finance the move to FBS football.”