The Student Governing Association approved a contract with K-State Athletics that includes a cut in privilege fee funding from $500,000 to $200,000 at their meeting Thursday.
The agreement includes phased cuts over the next three years. The current funding of $500,000 will be cut to $400,000 for fiscal year 2017, and fiscal year 2018 would see a further decrease to $350,000 before the cut to $200,000 for fiscal year 2019.
The funding will be spent on student-employee wages. According to an Oct. 8 public letter by John Currie, director of athletics, K-State Athletics spends $1.1 million on student-employee wages each year.
Because privilege fee funding is awarded in three-year cycles, the contract will be reviewed before the 2019-20 academic year. The SGA senators at that time will then decide the future of privilege fee funding for Athletics.
The decision was inspired in part by Athletics’ $5 million profit last year. According to budget data for fiscal year 2015, K-State Athletics recorded revenues of $71 million and expenses of $66 million. This made some senators question if the half million dollars of privilege fee funding could be better spent elsewhere, such as tutoring and other student services.
According to Currie’s letter, Athletics recently eliminated all funding from the university. The program is now the only one in Kansas and one of only approximately 25 in the country to receive no direct or indirect university funding or state support. When Currie came to K-State in 2009, $2.6 million of its $44 million budget came from the university.
There are several other agreements between SGA and K-State Athletics in the contract, including free student access to baseball, volleyball, women’s basketball and women’s soccer. The student section of Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be located from sections 24 through 28, the same area as before. The student section of Bramlage Coliseum will be sections 19 through 25.
Athletics will consult with SGA annually to set student pass pricing, in addition to regular meetings to discuss providing public tickets for purchase in general admission student sections, based on student pass demand and anticipated attendance.
“The decision that you all passed tonight is huge,” Andy Hurtig, student body president and senior in accounting, said. “On a national landscape, the relationship we are able to have with Athletics is more or less in my opinion second to none.”
Garrett Kays, privilege fee committee chairman and senior in agricultural economics, commended senators on the work put into the contract. He added that it was good to have avoided the loss of student seats and negative public reaction that the University of Kansas faced a year ago.
The situation involved the re-allocation of 120 prime seats in Allen Fieldhouse from students to donors. According to a June 5, 2014 article by Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star, it was a response by the athletic department to the student government’s cut of $1.1 million in student fee funding.
SGA was also told that the Kansas Board of Regents has approved the name change for K-State Salina to K-State Polytechnic. The change has already gone into effect.
Eileen Sieck, sophomore in elementary education, and Brittni Hayes, junior in elementary education, were sworn in as new student senators for the College of Education.
Funding was approved for several student groups. The Mobile Development Club will receive $100, the Percussive Arts Society $900, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers $900 and the Illuminating Engineering Society $1,000.
Next week, SGA will vote on $600 of funding to the Veterans Student Organization.