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Students torn over athletics fee issue

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 12:02

UNH Mandatory Fees

There has been a wide range of opinions circulating around campus after the Student Senate found on Sunday night that students were receiving little in return for paying the mandatory athletics fee. According to Student Activity Fee Chair Bryan Merrill’s research, students who attend five football games and 10 hockey games only use about $220 of the $954 they paid for the athletics fee, based on ticket prices. Some students were upset to find that the majority of the money was going directly to the athletic department, while others were in full support of the fee and the program it funds. 

Many seemed to understand that this issue has two sides, with one being a loss of money and the other being a good athletic program. 

“There’s good and bad things,” senior Allison Brehm said. “We pay money for athletes, but they bring in revenue for the school.” Brehm was referring to how some of the money goes toward paying for scholarships for student athletes.

Some students were concerned that their money is going to other students.

No one pays for me to go to school, and although they do deserve the scholarships, I don’t think that it should be at the expense of other students,” junior Emily Bird said. 

Other students had similar thoughts, although they wondered if there was a better way to help the athletes. 

“I wish I could see where exactly the money goes. Is us paying the only way to fund scholarships, or are there other ways that they haven’t looked into yet?” said Cassie Stever, a junior. 

Taylor Sherman, also a junior, agreed. 

“I think they should reevaluate where they get their scholarship money from,” she said.

Other students are just hoping that the fee will go down instead of continuing to rise as it has been. 

“It’s unfair for the students who are here for academic purposes to carry the burden, and thus the fee needs to be adjusted to a number more representative of the average student’s athletic involvement,” Patrick Egan said. 

Many other students agreed, saying that they enjoy athletics but wish that it didn’t have to cost so much. Others said they wish they could just get more for what they pay. Steven Pampreen, a junior, is not sure if that will be possible, he said. 

“I’m not sure how many more benefits they can give us,” he said. Currently, the only quantifiable benefit of the fee is that it gets students into sporting events free of charge.

A lot of students don’t think that’s enough. Freshman Matt Gately said, “Free hockey tickets are pretty sweet, but it’s almost $800 going to waste.” 

Athletic Director Marty Scarano believes that the fee has a lot of positives, he said.

“Our value is significant. It’s not just about hockey tickets,” he said. Scarano went on to say that the athletic department is fully aware of the burden on students and they’re working to make cuts any way they can. 

“We’ve made cuts and grown our revenue,” he said. The department has recently cut competitions and has downgraded some sports from Division One to club teams.

Students who view the fee and the athletic program as a positive understand that the athletic program is working hard to help students. 

“It’s good because I enjoy going to some of the sporting events, but I know they’re doing a good job at cutting things,” junior Connor Slein said. 

Many other students are in full support of the athletic program as well.

“Athletics brings a sense of community and pride for the university to get behind,” senior Nick Schmalhofer said. “I guess (the fee) is pricey, but if students went to more events they’d get their money’s worth.”

This is something that many student athletes wish other students would understand. Ugochukwu Uche, a member of the soccer team, wants students to realize this and take advantage of all the free sporting events taking place on campus. 

“UNH is a Division One school, and at most schools students have to pay for games,” he said. He went on to say that the athletic fee shouldn’t be thought of any differently than any other fee we pay for. He used the fee students pay for the Counseling Center as an example, because like athletics it doesn’t affect everyone and yet students are required to pay for it.

“We pay for so many different services, and you can choose to use them or you can choose to sit in your room,” he said. On whether or not he feels guilty about students paying for his scholarship, Uche said that he has definitely thought about the issue. He wishes that the athletic department would offer students more benefits for the fee in order to balance things out more.

Other student athletes have also thought about the idea that students are paying for them to attend UNH and participate on a sports team. 

“I’m definitely appreciative, because without them we wouldn’t have a football team,” football player Matt Kaplan said. “The guys are very aware of that.”

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Thu Feb 28 2013 12:53
As a former club team captain I can remember quite well that we were kicked off of memorial field one day when we always have scheduled practice that day because the athletic department decided to rent the field out to a local high school field lacrosse team. We were at practice and they showed up and said they had paid for the space, and we were forced to leave. We were not told of this change, we were not given an apology, nothing. As a paying student at this university to be kicked off of a field just so the athletic department can bring in more money is wrong. I have already put well more than my fair share of money to these programs. They need some serious changes to their budget over at athletics.

Just think. We all are an extra $3,800 in debt because of the athletics budget.

Mon Feb 25 2013 22:51
Making the school's sports teams could start winning something if they want to justify the fee.
Anonymous 2
Sat Feb 23 2013 11:50
1. For most students it is about just the hockey games. 2. They're not enough tickets for every undergrad at UNH, so why are we all paying. 3. That difference in the money that is being paid isn't being used for just scholarships. Athletes are being given $20 for dinner at away games and pocketing the excess. My assumption is that money is coming out of this fee as well, but I am not positive. The situation is ridiculous and needs to change.
The Whittemore Center: Where every game is a sellout, even if no one shows.
Fri Feb 22 2013 20:17
@Anonymous 10:47

I totally agree that there are more aspects of the fee than scholarships and tickets, and I think that is why people want to have the fee lowered and not abolished.

But I don't understand your other argument. I shouldn't have to pay for a ticket before I decide to go to a game. I should decide I want to go to the game, and then buy the ticket. Do you really think students should be compelled to buy a ticket to a sporting event that they don't want? Do you think it's right that people then turn around and be told they should be thankful that the tickets are free?

They're not free. They're overpriced. And that needs to stop.

Fri Feb 22 2013 15:35
I absolutely think the athletics fee should be lowered. As outlined in the TNH, for the amount of games students attend they are getting ripped off horribly. The large portion of what we students pay for the athletic fee goes to athletes in order to pay for their scholarships while we are stuck paying an ever increasing tuition. UNH is not a strong athletic school that is pulling in money or notoriety for our sports. Despite what the athletics program says about bringing money in, the program is a black hole losing money for the school. If you look at the campus master plan and what the athletic department hopes for, they want to expand Cowell Stadium (to the tune of $25 million if they had their way). We DO NOT have that kind of a program at UNH. We are the University of No Hardware. If the athletics program wants money they need to prove a purpose for this school, which they have completely failed to do for our entire history. Not to mention, most of the schools we used to play in football have dropped their team because of no support (BU, Northeastern, Vermont) so we will have to give them more money so they can travel farther. I think it is time for UNH to follow suit and drop the sport. And I say that being a HUGE football fan.

Lastly, as a former club sport captain and leader in a student org who participated in and dealt with SAFC I understand peoples arguments about how students don't utilize all activities available to them. However, for SAFC the fee is $100, not the $983 athletics fee. Big difference. SAFC holds meetings where students decide how the money will be spent. If you don't like how they are spending it, get involved. You think you could walk into an athletics budget meeting and get the same opportunity? As for the recreation budget, underfunded and poorly managed. There are so many club sports out there that are working their ass off fundraising, doing community service, doing classwork, working, and so much more. These are the real student athletes who deserve scholarships. They play for the love of the sport and get no thanks or support from the university. Do you know there are 3 grass fields that only UNH varsity sports can use? One is below Bremner and I HAVE NEVER SEEN the football team practice there over 6 years, but it is reserved for them if they want to practice on grass before an away game. Where was our team forced to play? Where football tailgating happens, with all the broken glass. Meanwhile us lowly club sports and intramurals are in a constant fight to get even the shortest amount of field time. If the athletics program wants to be a better value to this school start with your tyrannical control over the fields, let the students use them! Not just your precious scholarship athletes.

The transportation budget should be better funded (saferides and the transit system are superb!) Technology, health, and MUB I don't know enough about to comment on.

Fri Feb 22 2013 11:47
This article is already incorrect. We don't have 10 home football games. Nice work TNH.... back at it again
Fri Feb 22 2013 10:47
Why is everyone in this article focused on the aspect of scholarships for student athletes? Do people honestly think that this is the only cost that UNH Athletics has to bear? When certain sports are downgraded from D1/varsity to club sports, its not just scholarship money that gets cut - it is also funding for coaching, travel, insurance, upgraded equipment,etc.
Do you ever use the pool or the soccer field? Athletics pays for these.
I also have to agree that there is one great way to get "more for your money" in terms of going to more games. I went to an outstanding women's hockey game last weekend and aside from the Band I don't think there were more than a dozen students attending.
The Athletics fee is just one among many where everyone pays, but it is up to you to get your value.
Fri Feb 22 2013 03:26
I was on the Student Senate and SAFC when I was an undergrad. These fees have been steadily on the rise. STOP THE MADNESS. Stop paying for athletic scholarships! Stop the bologna.

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