After reading USA Today’s feature on student fees paying for athletic programs, in the Wednesday, Sept. 22, issue, I was filled with disgust. Some schools at least had the cojones to charge an actual athletics fee, which for the most part was relatively minor. What got me, however, was the schools that don’t tell you where your money is going. Ranges of 10-23 percent of students’ tuition at some schools are given to the athletic department. Personally, I’m paying for an education, not to subsidize minority sports programs that I don’t support and will probably never witness compete. This is outrageous. With tuition constantly rising, at least 6 percent each year, I would think that most people would want that money to go directly to funding their education, not sports teams, especially in the current economic climate where there is a need for penny-pinching.
Perhaps my stance would be softened if I was confident efforts were being made to lessen costs when at all possible. However, even here at Drake, I see wastefulness. The women’s tennis team, a program that has little to no fan support and brings in no money, is playing in a tournament this weekend at UNI in Cedar Falls, a drive of little over 2 hours. However, they feel the need to stay in a hotel for 3 nights — FOR A COMPETITION THAT IS A 2-HOUR DRIVE AWAY. The Drake football team is non-scholarship, can’t compete in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) postseason and generates very little revenue. Despite this, they travel to such far-off places as Bozeman, Mont., Jacksonville, Fla. and Campbell University, N.C. Transporting 60 plus players and staff to these places is far from cheap. Could they at least take a beating at the hands of a FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) team and take a payout like most FCS teams do to help fund this? UNI is getting paid $500,000 to play at Iowa next year.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be on the hook for these travel arrangements when it comes time for budget assessments and the inevitable tuition increases come next spring. This is the only data I have to go off, but I’d love to see if the Drake administration would be willing to publish numbers of how much student tuition money funds university athletic programs and if Drake compares favorably to other schools.