A full-time student at the University of Texas at El Paso pays $1,440 in student fees for athletics over the course of a four-year degree.
Through the University of Texas institution, UTEP is hoping to increase student fees by 25 cents with each passing year. By fall 2017 this would bring the fee to $15.50 per student, and the athletic program earnings would be $186 for each full-time student.
Some students had no idea this was happening.
“The student body doesn’t even know who the athletes are, and yet we pay for them?” sophomore UTEP student Adriana Castordna said. “My school needs transparency when it comes to these things.”
For Sam Houston State University as a whole, it appears that students foot approximately half of the university’s athletic costs. Student fees made up an average of 49.5 percent of the total athletic revenue over a span of 11 years, from 2005-2015.
According to Bobbie Hilliard, the university’s associate athletic director of finance, students pay a total of $18 per credit hour to SHSU’s athletics program in their student fees.
This means a full-time student taking 12 hours would pay $216 to the athletics program in one semester.
“I was aware there were athletic fees, but not the exact amount,” SHSU student Lauren Head said.
But Hilliard said she thinks the university “makes an effort to educate students” and puts out enough information to do so.
She said approving the budget is an extensive process that requires approval from the Board of Regents, the university president, the vice president of finance and a final vote by the student body. The university’s student services department is in charge of the vote.
Tickets to Sam Houston athletic events are free for students, which is something Head said she enjoys because she loves attending games.
When talking about the student body vote of the budget, Hilliard pointed out there are over 400 student athletes, so the majority of them vote in favor of the proposed budget.
Hilliard said the athletic program definitely wouldn’t be able to exist without student subsidies, and this will be true at least for the next two to three years.
“Of course, everyone’s goal is to stop subsidizing,” she said.
In 2015, Texas Tech University’s student athletic fee amounted to $3.2 million. Each student was charged $114 per year in athletic fees, which were charged in addition to the rest of their student service fees.
Alex Blackmon, mechanical engineer junior, said he is aware that the university charges him some sort of fee that contribute to the athletic programs.
“I don’t feel comfortable knowing that is costs that much but I do believe it should cost something,” Blackmon said. “I hope that $114 is just.”
But when compared to other universities like UNT, whose student subsidies are at 46 percent, the 5.3 percent of Texas Tech’s revenue that comes from student subsidies is relatively low.
Texas Tech also garners money from media rights, which approximately total $15 million. Having these extra sources of income allows Texas Tech to lessen student athletic fee charges. Without these student fees and contributions, the university would barely be able to make a surplus.
Although students contribute at an increasing rate to the University of North Texas’ athletic program, the university has lost money every year until 2014. From 2005 to 2011, student fees towards the athletic program averaged at about $4.6 million, increasing every year except for one.
But in 2012 athletic student fees jumped from $4.9 million to $9.8 million, a 91 percent increase. Every year since, overall student fees have gradually increased. In 2015, total student fees were about $10.7 million.
According to Dr. Elizabeth With, vice president of student affairs at UNT, an athletic fee and a flat rate amount are both pulled from the overall student fees collected by the university. The flat rate received by the athletic program in 2015 was $2 million.
But there is also a mandatory athletic fee for each student, which is $11 per semester credit hour and is capped at 15 hours. This means a student has to pay $132 during one 12-hour semester. If that number remained steady over the next four years, an incoming freshman would pay $1,320 towards the athletic program while getting a 120-hour degree.
Although students foot well over a third of the university’s athletic costs now, they used to pay almost half.
Over a span of 11 years, from 2005 - 2015, student fees made up an average of 42.5 percent of the total athletic revenue. The highest was 50 percent in 2012, but the number decreased to 34 percent in the most recent three years.
Until last year, student fees made up less than 20 percent of the revenue for the athletic program for the University of Texas at El Paso.
But UTEP’s athletic program wouldn’t be able to survive without collecting million of dollars in student fees, according to UTEP’s business services.
“The athletic program relies heavily on [student fees],” UTEP director of business services Frank Grijalva said. “If they were to lose student service fees, that would be $200 in their operating budget.”
UTEP students are charged $15 per semester credit hour. Though the school only charges up to 12 credit hours, the athletic program earns $180 per semester from each full-time student enrolled. These fees bring million of dollars to the athletic department. In 2015, the university collected nearly $6 million in student fees alone.
Over the span of 11 years, from 2005-2015, student fees made up an average of 54.1 percent of the total athletic revenue at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Overall, students are footing more than half of the university’s athletic costs. In 2014, $12 million in student fees were reported as revenue.
A common argument for using student fees to beef up revenue at universities is the Flutie Effect.
Historically, it refers to a last-minute pass by Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie during a 1984 game against the University of Miami. In the two years following the game, the number of applications at Boston College rose by 30 percent.
The Flutie Effect is a proven phenomenon that shows that success in athletics correlates with an increase in the number of applicants for universities.
Brandon Raphael, director of development with athletics at UTSA, argues this in the case for UTSA. He said sports enhance the student experience.
“Athletics serves so many purposes when it comes to school pride and opportunities,” he said.
The University of Texas represents evidence of this effect. In the two years after the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005, the number of undergraduate students rose by a little more than 3,000 students. Since then the number of undergraduate students has remained around 35,000 — until 2013, when it jumped to almost 40,000 students.
Raphael said that the maximum amount a student would pay for athletics in a semester is $120.
“UTSA has only had football for five years,” he said. “Without the student fee, we would still be in the Southland Conference. We wouldn’t be able to have football without a student fee.”
Brandon Raphael works on the fundraising side of athletics.
“Our goal every year is to fundraise as much as possible for our unrestricted funds,” he said.
However, the top expense every year for the UTSA athletic department is student financial aid. In second place almost every year is coaching salaries and benefits. Support and administrative salaries come in third. Recruiting is less than 2 percent of the expenses, but Raphael said it is vital to the athletic department.
“What a lot of these schools are doing, it’s almost like an arms race,” Raphael said. “Recruiting the best students and athletes is the lifeblood of the athletic department. Everything we do revolves around recruiting.”
Overall, it appears that students are footing more than half of the university’s athletic costs. However, the highest expense every year goes toward student aid, which works in students’ favor.
The overall student fee amounts at the University of Texas at Dallas have gradually risen over the past seven years from 2009 - 2015, with the exception of 2013 - 2014, during which it remained exactly the same. However, due to fluctuations in enrollment, the cost per student varied. It was the highest in 2010 and 2013, when each student paid nearly $217 and $222 respectively.
“I had no idea that much of my money was going to the athletics department when I went to UT-D,” emerging media and communications alumnus Connor Prewit said. “Are you serious? We don’t even have a football program.”
It also appears that students are footing well over two-thirds of the athletic budget. In 2013, when they were actually paying the most in athletic student fees, students made up for the smallest percentage of the athletic budget at 70 percent. The highest figure was in 2011, when 91 percent of the athletic budget was accounted for by student fees.
It should also be noted that for all seven years no money was allotted to student aid.
In 2013, total attendance at home football games came to 126,182 people — an average of 21,030 people per game. This was the highest in school history. According to CBS Sports, UNT had an average attendance of 13,361 in 2015. This represents a decrease of more than 36 percent in two years, despite the fact that students were charged over $10 million each of those years.
According to UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal, UNT’s biggest challenge is that the university can’t put people in the stands or fill the stadiums because it “give[s] tickets away.”
“We don’t charge students a dime to go to games,” Villarreal said. “If we can start filling the stands and get people to come out to games, then we can start generating more revenue in areas like concessions and merchandise.”
Since 2014, home game attendance for the University of North Texas at San Antonio’s football overall season was 165,458 people. This is an average of 27,576 people per game.
Over the seven-year course of 2009 - 2015, ticket sales at the University of Texas at Dallas have risen overall. But they fluctuate from year to year. From 2009 - 2011, ticket sale revenue had an average of just over $5,500.
UT-D ticket sales nearly doubled in 2012, bringing in no less than $11,270. According to the University of Texas at Dallas News Center, this could be due in part to the university’s rugby team, which won the Texas Rugby Union Collegiate Division III state championship that February. Despite a slight drop in sales during 2013 - 2014, ticket revenue rose above $10,000 during 2015.
From 2005-2015, Sam Houston State University more than doubled its total athletic revenue from a little over $6 million to more than $15 million.
More than half (50.5 percent) of the athletic revenue consisted of ticket sales, program contributions and direct support from the institution and royalties.
Texas Tech generated $79 million in athletic revenue, allotting them more than $3,000 in surplus. But their revenue includes money from student service fees and institutional contributions, not solely from sales or donors.
Although Texas Tech hosts sports other than football, it’s the most prominent with $10 million of ticket sales alone last year. The men and women’s basketball teams were only responsible for $900,000.
As a whole, Texas Tech generated about $11 million in ticket sales.
“I don’t feel as if campus is sports-centered and there is enough attention on sports but it doesn’t outweigh academic,” Blackmon said
Blackmon said he does he supports the basketball and football team by attending games during the season.
The overall revenue of UNT’s sports program has fluctuated about $10 million up or down from 2005 - 2011. But in 2012 revenue increased about 69 percent, coming out to approximately $19 million. It has increased significantly every year since and is now at $31.3 million.
The athletic program has been in a deficit from 2005 - 2013, with the average deficit being about $6.2 million. In 2014 there was a profit or surplus of about $440,000, but that decreased to just 43,000 last year.
Over the span of 11 years, from 2005 - 2015, student fees made up 42.5 percent of the total athletic revenue on average. The other 57.5 percent came from ticket sales, program and NCAA contributions and royalties.
The University of Texas at El Paso has shown a steady increase in revenue for the sports program from 2005 - 2015. During these 11 years, there have been only two years that showed a deficit in revenue, 2006 and 2008. During 2006 the deficit was nearly $300,000, while 2008’s deficit was close to $440,000.
Most of the athletic program’s revenue comes directly from university support and ticket sale revenue. Until last year, student fees made up less than 20 percent of the school’s revenue for the athletic program.
The University of Texas made a little more than one billion dollars after they won their fourth national championship. That year, the University of Texas athletic department had a surplus of $952,813,065.
Comparatively, after losing the National Championship to Alabama in 2009, the Longhorns collected only $143,555,354 in revenue.
The athletic department has only suffered two deficits in the past decade. The first was after an 2010 campaign under Mack Brown’s otherwise stellar career as the university’s head coach. The team went 5-7. The second was in 2014, when Mack Brown was fired and replaced by Charlie Strong.
The University of Texas at San Antonio’s overall sports program gained moderate revenue for the university almost every year from 2005 - 2015. The three years it failed to do so were 2005, 2013 and 2014. Although in 2005 it ended the year with a $176,000 deficit, and in 2014 a $237,000 deficit, an outlier is 2013. The deficit that year was $25 million.
Almost 46 percent of athletic revenue came from ticket sales, program contributions and royalties, with the other 54 percent being paid for by student fees.
Much of the revenue from the University of Texas at Dallas comes from student fees. Ticket sales, revenue from sports camps and contributions and royalties also contribute.
From 2005 to 2013, the total athletics spending increased by 53 percent for the University of Houston. From 2005 - 2007 the total funding for UH’s athletics suffered a 53 percent decrease, but in 2008, the funding increased 37 percent. By 2013 funding had increased by 25 percent, though it suffered an 83 percent decrease in 2014.
From 2008 - 2014, the university invested $106 million into its athletic program — nearly 10 times more than other universities like UT-Austin, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
According to Matthew Watkins of the Texas Tribune, the university’s goal is to catch up after being behind since the 1980s, when the athletic program was starting to be successful.
The largest expense for SHSU’s athletic department every year is athletic student aid. Coming in at a consistently close second every year are coaching salaries and benefits. Staff support and administrative salaries are third.
The university had a total of $76 million in expenses to account for, despite generating about $11 million in ticket sales.
The highest expense in the last 11 years from 2005 - 2011, except for one year, has not been athletic student aid. Coaching salaries and support staff/administrative salaries actually make up the biggest chunk of expenses. This isn’t in student’s favor, as it means most of the money they pay in athletic fees has been benefitting the athletic coaches and staff more than the students themselves.
The expenses at UT’s athletic department have nearly doubled in the past decade. Athletic student aid has gradually risen in the past decade from $6,617,234 in 2005 to $10,640,141 in 2015.
The most notable change in expenses within the past decade was titled “Other Operating Expenses,” which in the 2005 NCAA Report is considered to include equipment leases, non-team travel, postage, business insurance and subscriptions — it doesn’t include indirect administration overhead.
Those expenses rose from $3,537,884 in 2005 to $13,862,706 in 2015.
The top expense every year for the UTSA athletic department is student financial aid, so even though students are footing more than half of the university’s athletic costs, this actually works in their favor.
Over a span of 11 years, from 2005 - 2015, the amount of coaching benefits at the University of Texas at El Paso has risen from just $3 million in 2005 to $5 million in 2015. When compared to other schools, UTEP tends to have slightly less-than-average monetary requirements when it comes to what students are charged in fees for the athletic program, and the percentage of subsidies those fees make up.
Coaching salaries and benefits consistently take second place to student financial aid as the university’s largest expense. Support and administrative salaries are less, coming in third.
Over the past seven years, from 2009 - 2015, the biggest expense for the University of Texas at Dallas has consistently been the coaching salaries. In close second are support staff and administration salaries.
Team travel is also a consistently high expense for UT-D. According to athletic operations manager Misty Bass, this category include expenses for things like charter buses, car rentals, team meals, hotel rooms, drinks and snacks, and even laundry if the team is on the road for an extended amount of time. She said these funds are only used for “away games” when the team is required to travel -- home games don’t apply.
From 2009 - 2013, UT-D held a sports camp that varied greatly in expense from $16,380 in 2010 to $263,122 in 2013. In 2014 and 2015 the expenses dropped to $0, but the university still hosts eight different types of sports camps throughout the year, according to their website. The athletic department could not be reached for comment at this time.
Average Revenue vs. Expense 2005-2015
Nearly half of Sam Houston’s revenue came not only from ticket sales, but also from program contributions, direct support from the institution and royalties.
Texas Tech’s revenue includes money from student service fees and institutional contributions, not solely from sales or donors. However, when compared to other universities such as UNT, who subsidies are at 46 percent, only 5.3 percent of Tech’s revenue comes from student subsidies.
Texas Tech has been able to cut their subsidy percentage in half since 2005, when subsidies were at 10 percent. This may account for the increase in contributions that Texas Tech has received over the years.
In 2015, $23 million was granted to the athletic program through outside contributions from various corporations, clubs and foundations, among other entities. In 2005, they received $16 million.
Since 2005 the athletic program has received $26 million in donations from boosters and supporters of the university. Most of those donations are geared towards men’s basketball and football teams.
The University of Texas athletic department has not received any institutional or state support during the past decade.
No direct institutional support was given to the University of Texas at Dallas for any year between 2009 - 2015, and the university didn’t receive any direct support from the state or the government either. UT-D didn’t receive any NCAA distributions or institutional support until 2013, when they were granted $400.
The university was also given $400 in 2014, and in 2015 the amount was raised to $6,400. University officials said they are optimistic that the NCAA will continue to contribute to their Division III athletic program.