Clemson officials are exploring the option of levying a $350 annual athletics fee to undergraduate students to supplement the athletic department’s budget in response to an anticipated sharp rise in the cost of doing business.
Recent autonomy measures adopted by the NCAA allows ‘Power Five’ conference members to set many of their own rules. Changes are likely to include increases in scholarships to the full cost of attendance or the addition of stipends, as well as enhanced health care coverage.
New rules have already allowed schools to provide unlimited meals for student-athletes. Other anticipated cost increases include team travel in the expanded ACC, and the cost of providing tuition when student-athletes return to school to finish their degrees.
Clemson, whose athletic department is currently operating with a surplus, is the only public university in the ACC or SEC that does not either charge an athletics fee or require students to purchase tickets to the athletic events they attend. Clemson students attend all athletic events free of charge.
The possibility of charging a fee has been discussed by administrators for at least two years. Athletic director Dan Radakovich outlined the plan to Clemson’s Athletics Counsel – an advisory body comprised of faculty, staff, students and administrators – earlier this fall.
No proposal has yet been submitted to the university’s board of trustees, which would have to approve any added fees. Clemson students are currently charged approximately $800 in various fees, including a campus recreation fee, a health services fee, a transit fee and a technology fee.
The proposal being floated by Radakovich would, if approved, go into effect with new students enrolling at Clemson for the 2015-16 academic year. Current students would be exempt, and graduate students could opt out of paying the fee.
Once fully implemented, the fee would provide an additional $6 million in revenue for athletic department operating expenses. None of the additional funds would be used for athletic facilities.
“There have been no specification recommendations by the athletic director and no affirmative action by the board,” Clemson Board of Trustees chairman David Wilkins told The State newspaper on Monday. “This is not something that has been discussed formally by the board and I’m not going to get ahead of myself with speculation.”
The University of Virginia raises $13 million each year for athletics from student fees, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech raise $7-8 million, and NC State and Georgia Tech raise $5-5.5 million.
Radakovich says his proposal is being made with an eye toward the future.
“Nobody wants to add more fees, but I think athletics is an integral part of their experience at Clemson and they want to make sure that continues to remain strong,” Radakovich told The State. “It’s very different from some of the other places I’ve been before in my career where it was an absolute necessity to work with the student government to implement a fee right away … We’re not in that circumstance at all.”
This article was republished with permission from the author, Kerry Capps. The original article was published on www.independentmail.com.