Thursday, May 07, 2015

Student-led investigation finds colleges charging thousands in hidden fees to support athletics

Many colleges and universities are charging students thousands of dollars in hidden fees that go to support athletic programs, while those same colleges continue to raise tuition and cut jobs, says an investigative report by University of Cincinnati students for CityBeat. Seven of Ohio's eight largest universities in 2013 charged students an athletic subsidy between $724 to $1,226 per student, totaling between $11,149,815 to $21,754,860 for all students.

At the current rate, a student like Kevin Leugers will pay the University of Cincinnati $4,096 in athletic subsidies during his four years of school, more than 20 percent of the $20,000 he plans to borrow in school loans, reports CityBeat. "Thomas Humes, UC’s board chair and a trustee since 2007, says the $127 million sports subsidy is a necessity to keep pace with other programs." He told reporters, "I think it is a requirement. There has been a decision that whatever that investment number is that it is a positive investment for the university. I don’t view it as a concern.”

Jeff Smith, a college sports subsidies expert who teaches management at the University of South Carolina Upstate, told reporters, “It’s Robin Hood in reverse. These schools are imposing a regressive tax on those students least able to afford it. If I were a student, I would be screaming about this.”

While charging students fees for athletics "many of these same schools are cutting faculty jobs and slashing academic spending," reports CityBeat. "Between 2005 and 2013, academic spending per full-time undergraduate student at UC, adjusted for inflation, dropped 24 percent, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a national group of current and former college presidents seeking to reform college athletics using research studies and, more recently, online databases."

"In other words, over the past decade, UC leaders have used student fees and tuition to cover a nearly five-fold increase in the athletic department’s annual deficit while cutting academic spending per student by almost 25 percent," CityBeat reports. 

Of the eight largest schools, only Ohio State University does not charge an athletic subsidy, mainly because they don't have to. OSU, whose football team is the defending national champion and whose stadium seats 104,944, has one of the most profitable athletic programs in the nation. (Read more)

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