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Beaulieu: CSU students should choose where to allocate athletic fees

In reviewing the 2016-17 fiscal year for the Colorado State athletic department, two things became abundantly clear. My future is not as an accountant and a large amount of money to most CSU athletic teams, would be nothing in the realm of football.

Football receives the vast majority of the athletic department’s various revenue streams. One of those revenue streams is student athletic fees. In 2016-2017, students contributed about a third as much as the University did to athletics through institutional support. So students are investing a significant amount in athletics, without seeing any returns beyond winning and a boost in school pride. If that’s the case, students should at least be able to help decide where it goes.

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Given all the money passing through football, Canvas Stadium and the University as a whole, students should be able to play a role in improving other sports when certain teams are not happy with their facilities and, furthermore, when some people do not care about CSU football (gasps).

There is no break down to what student athletic fees are being used for per sport in the report. It is possible that none of of that money is going to football. It seems much more likely, however, that most of the money goes towards football given how the other revenue and expense streams break down. In 2016-2017, the swim and dive team received zero dollars of the Indirect Institutional Support revenue stream; a fund tabbed for things like facility maintenance and human resources.

While one should not assume the swim and dive team got nothing all year, it seems concerning that the $115.61 you spent as a swimmer on athletic fees disappears with the vision that they spent zero dollars on you in another category. Small improvements could be covered by the teams themselves. The softball team could cover their batting cages with a year or two of their 20 players paying athletic fees for instance.

Why should something that amounts to a donation for most students, who do not capitalize on tickets or benefit from sports, be earmarked for football? If we as students have to help fund the athletic department, then I am sure there are lots of CSU men and women who would rather give it to a sport that is on the rise, disadvantaged in funds or that fir their personal preference. This juxtaposed with pouring most of it into the sport the school is least likely to gain supremacy in.

I know some of the counter argument here would be that football brings in the most money so it should be invested in most. The fallacy lies in that part of the reason other sports do not bring in as much is because they require a higher level of excellence to do so. Aside from basketball, football and soccer, every other CSU team is currently on the rise. We could be small contributions away from moving to the highest levels of those athletic areas and our football team would not be hurting because of it.

We could bicker over numbers all day, even though most of us have no concept as to the inner financial workings of a university and their athletic department, but it would be naive to believe that diverting a few hundred thousand a year (or even more) from the football program would break it. The revenue surplus alone from 2016-2017 could cover that (since the NCAA is a “non-profit,”) or the university could contribute a little more, because there is no denying that football makes them much more than that.

Maybe some of the students at Colorado State would like to see us compete towards making the college basketball tournament more frequently, maybe a needed push for track and field supremacy after ranking ninth this season, maybe we want the women’s teams to have all the facilities they need. Maybe just above mediocrity in the country’s most famous sport isn’t worth $115.61 a year.

Those are all maybes, but those maybes should definitely be decided transparently and with the input of students. After all, we are paying for it.

Mack Beaulieu is a sports reporter and columnist for the Collegian and can be reached online at sports@collegian.com or on twitter @Macknz_James

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