The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

UNC proposes student athletic fee increase

The proposed fee would be $45 per student, half of the original proposal

The athletic department will propose a student fee increase of $45 per student today — half the amount that was proposed to a committee of students and administrators last week.

The department chose to eliminate the portion of the previously proposed $90 increase that would have funded scholarships for student athletes.

If approved, the fee increase will help fund operating costs for the University’s Olympic sports programs, excluding football and men’s basketball.

Athletic director Dick Baddour said the department decided to lower its request after hearing concerns from the student fee advisory subcommittee, which will vote on the increase today.

“We still feel it’s a legitimate request, but we’re trying to be responsive to student needs and feeling,” he said.

Baddour said the department does not have a plan in place if the fee increase is voted down, but said department leaders would consider cutting funding for sports programs.

“We’ve been through cuts for a couple of years now,” he said. “Where we’ve tried to protect have been student services and sports programs.”

Students now pay $274.50 annually for the athletic fee.

Martina Ballen, senior associate athletic director, said committee members expressed reservation about using student fees to cover athletic scholarships.

In 2010, the N.C. General Assembly eliminated the tuition waiver that allowed out-of-state student athletes on full scholarships to receive in-state tuition.

The legislation created a gap of approximately $3 million in the athletic department’s budget.

Alex Mills, treasurer of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, said he was surprised the department decided to drop its request for scholarship funding.

“(The committee’s) general opinion was more skeptical of the need for operational funding,” he said.

“They have received an inflationary increase over the past few years, so it wasn’t clear why operating costs should go up.”

Student Body President Mary Cooper said she’s not sure what the committee will decide, but the $45 fee increase is much more attractive than the previous $90 request.

“I’m not sure if dropping the scholarship funding will help or hurt.”

She said some committee members were more inclined to support scholarships rather than operating costs.

“The operation side is where the athletic department does need help, and it’d be much harder to find a source for that money,” Cooper said.

Regardless of the committee’s decision, the athletic department will have to meet its financial commitments for next year, Ballen said.

“The concern doesn’t go away,” she said. “We still have to meet that obligation, and that could mean making other adjustments within the athletic department.”

If the committee approves the fee increase, it will move to the University’s tuition and fee advisory task force for consideration.

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