Athletic fees may rise again

Last Tuesday, the FAMU Student Fee Committee voted to increase the athletic fee for the second time in two years. 

If trustees approve the recommendation the fee will increase by $0.84 to a total of $10.91 per credit hour.

After a 40-minute presentation on behalf of the athletic department and 20 minutes of deliberation by the committee, the decision was finalized.

The purpose of an athletic fee is to provide college athletics a resource to build better facilities and assist with the maintenance and operations of athletic facilities the athletic department said.

Officials from the athletic department said it is currently operating in a $5.7 million deficit.  In addition to the $2.6 million deficit that already existed a year ago an additional $3.1 million was added after this year’s budget report.  

If approved, the fee increase is expected to generate enough revenue to subsidize the overall cost and debts.  Currently, students pay $10.07 per credit hour for the athletic fee, which was estimated to generate revenue of $3,022,941, the department stated.

Athletic Director Bill Hayes believes that a fee increase is necessary to sustain programs and remain competitive.

“I understand that these are tough economic times, but it is important that we invest in our university so that we can produce the best and recruit the best’,” Hayes said.

According to the fee report, the increase would cover the areas of recruitment, scholarships, academic support programs, compliance and the hiring of more coaching staff.

Currently, there are only four academic advisors to monitor all of the athletic teams, the department said. The staff must also fulfill more training to successfully undergo SACS accreditation.

To better improve the athlete-to-coach ratio, more coaching staff was requested and the department wants to be able to offer competitive salaries to quality coaches.

Based on Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference statistics, FAMU currently pays the lowest athletic fee overall in the MEAC. Some MEAC schools include Hampton, Howard and Bethune-Cookman Universities.

Tim Jones, a member of the FAMU baseball team said the fee increase will be beneficial. 

“The extra money would help us with travel expenditures and academic support,” Jones said.

Presently, 92 percent of FAMU students are on need-based aid. The fee would be covered by money from aid through scholarships and grants.

The fee committee will be presenting the fee increase to the Board of Trustees at the end of this academic year and if the board accepts it , the fee will go into effect in at the start of the 2009-2010 academic year.