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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Head-To-Head: The $200 athletics fee

THE FEE IS BAD

Football season is one of the staple clichés that students hear graduates wistfully reminisce about as one of the most exciting and fun environments of college life. While everyone is a fan of fun times with great friends, that does not mean everyone is a fan of the sport itself. Therefore, the proposed athletics fee to be used for Arizona Stadium is nonessential to all the students that appreciate football season for more than just the game itself.

According to the NCAA Finance’s “Top School Revenues,” the UA is the 21st highest-earning university. While the UA may land within the top 25 for revenue, we cannot forget that our team did not finish within the top 25 for performance this past season, according to FBS college football rankings. In reality, the UA already has a surplus of money when it comes to sports performance. Why does the department need more money if the extra money we already have still did not achieve desired results?

Well, part of the answer to that question is the simple notion that more money will not automatically correlate to more wins on the field.

The Oregon Ducks are currently ranked as the school with the top revenue in the NCAA. While the Ducks had a more successful season than the Wildcats, one cannot assume it was merely because of their finances alone. Money is not some magic fairy dust that, if spread throughout the stadium, will guarantee a more successful season.

With all the pre-game festivities, the coordinated red and blue outfits, the cheers and ZonaZoo entertainment during the game, students will almost always share an enjoyable night, win or lose.

Because students are going to have fun regardless of the scoreboard, the minor flaws to the stadium’s infrastructure are trivial and insignificant. The stadium is still an admirable facility as it stands right now and whatever blemishes the stadium may have are inevitable effects of aging.

Also, $200 is a hefty fee to try to casually tack on to incoming students’ expenses. College is expensive enough as it is and many families already have to budget out every expense for years to afford it.

According to a survey given by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to approximately 400 high schools in the state of Illinois, when asked to give reasons why students who were eligible to attend college did not, 76 percent cited “can’t afford” as a reason.

So, arguing $200 is negligible in the grand scheme of college expenses is no valid argument and even for incoming students who would be able to spare the added fee in addition to their tuition, that money could buy roughly 40 meals at $5 a piece or two $100 textbooks, or pretty much any other item necessary to a student.

The stadium’s aesthetic appeal is neither a priority nor necessity to students in comparison to every other cost we all have to consider on a daily basis.

Furthermore, other departments or areas of campus at the UA arguably need the money much more than athletics.

In January, for example, the UA discussed slashing its research funding nearly in half. Once expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2020, research spending is now projected to reach only $654 million by then. Slashing money in this area of the university will be consequential because of all the incredible work done within those prestigious programs. The research office is just one of the many departments on campus that deserves an influx of funds more than the football stadium.

Charging students even more money to attend school is a hard sell to begin with, but it is even less convincing when the impact of this expense will not be equally felt by all incoming students.

The total revamp of the stadium would total around $150 million—a total that is truly a waste of incoming students and their families’ already systematically-drained bank accounts. 

THE FEE IS GOOD 

College football is a big deal. Every Saturday, millions of people flock to their TVs or nearby stadiums to revel in the almost mystical hysteria of a football game.

Everyone, it seems, is at least a casual college football fan. If you aren’t, then the UA’s on-field success doesn’t matter to you.

During the 2014-2015 football season, the UA brought in over $23 million in revenue, according to the United States Department of Education. This is not inconsequential.

That number, however, pales in comparison to more premiere college programs such as Alabama, which boasts a whopping $97 million of revenue over the same period.

While much of this revenue is going back to athletic programs, it does provide money to education costs. Money from the athletics programs’ revenue is used to help pay for student athletes’ tuitions. In the end, the athletics programs’ revenue benefits more than just sports; it benefits students.

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that on-field success has a direct correlation to some university metrics. It states that, on average, football teams that improve their yearly win total by five games receive a 28 percent increase in alumni donations, 5 percent increase in applications, and a nine-point rise in SAT scores from incoming students, all within one year. The study found that the two-year increase was even more substantial.

To get to Alabama’s level—or even simply closer to that level—would translate to a lot of overall good for our entire university.

The UA’s athletics program has been sparked ever since Greg Byrne has made it his mission to take Arizona from a forgettable athletic school to a premiere echelon.

Hiring Rich Rodriguez put our football team on the map and gave our athletics program credibility. The renovations to McKale Center and the construction of Arizona Stadium took it one step further.

Renovating Arizona Stadium, the edifice that houses America’s most popular game, could be one of the last steps in moving Arizona into the upper tier of football and other athletics programs.

The athletics fee can help us get there.

In-state tuition is about $11,000 per year. Out-of-state tuition is around $32,000. I think it’s reasonable to say that $200 is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, so let’s stop pretending the fee is going to starve anyone.

Arizona Stadium, if you haven’t been to it, is pretty low-rent. It was originally constructed in 1928 and it shows. Cracks, stains and trash are defining elements to an Arizona game day. It could definitely use the renovations proposed by Byrne.

To see what effect facilities can have on an athletics program we need to look no further than to our Pac-12 Conference nemesis, Oregon. Gifted with a generous injection of cash from former Nike CEO Phil Knight, the Ducks have turned themselves into an athletic powerhouse with their flashy facilities. Since Knight’s initial athletic donation in 1996, Oregon’s football team has suffered only one losing season and a bevy of conference championships and bowl victories.

It’s hard to convince 18-year-olds from California to come to the desert and play in an old, run-down stadium. Athletic facilities definitely have an impact on recruiting, which creates a domino effect of team success, university recognition and financial benefit.

This proposed athletics fee is, at first glance, beneficial to our athletics program, which is in itself something to get excited about. But in the grand scheme of things, the fee will benefit our university as a whole.

Let’s invest in the future of UA and say yes to the fee. 


Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter


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