Andrea Velgis, The Paisano
The mandatory athletic fee for full-time UTSA students is $240 per semester. This is the second highest fee that students are required to pay.
The highest overall fee is the “Automated Services Charge” ($300 per semester), which includes funding for the campus computers and network facilities for administrative, library and academic programs. The athletics fee provides partial funding for UTSA athletic programs, extends scholarships to athletes, increases the number of sports offered and directs funds to indoor and outdoor athletic facilities.
The fee also allows UTSA students free admission to all regular season conference and non-conference sporting events held on campus and at the Alamodome.
Before the addition of the football team, the fee for students was $120 dollars per semester. Currently, the fee is double what it was during the 2007-2008 school year. According to UTSA athletics’ official website, GoUTSA, in September 2007, 4,602 of 28,533 enrolled UTSA students voted in a Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored online election, where 65.9 percent of those students voted in favor of the fee increase. The referendum authorized athletics fees to increase from a maximum of $120 per semester to a maximum of $240. This increase was phased in over several years between the school years of 2007-2008 and 2013 – 2014.
When asked about how much revenue is garnered by the football team, Sports Information Director Kyle Stephens explained that there is no way to pinpoint an exact figure on the amount of revenue that the football team generates for the university.
“There is no way to put an exact dollar figure on that,” Stephens said. “Ticket sales, donations, TV-contract payouts from the conference, value of media placements, increase in degree equity, etc. all contribute to athletics and essentially the university as a whole.”
Despite the high fee, UTSA’s football team’s current record of 2-8 and the fact that UTSA is predominantly a research institution, some UTSA students are happy to have a team to cheer for.
UTSA senior communications major Juan Morales enjoys having a football team, as well as other sports teams, and he believes that the fee is reasonable as it builds a sense of community.
“I am completely happy to have a team to support, as the football games and other athletic events provide yet another opportunity for students in the UTSA community to come together,” Morales explained. “I consider the fee as worthy, and I try to attend as many athletic events as possible, because unlike many other schools in Texas — thanks to the athletics fee — we are not charged any extra money to attend games.”
UTSA junior business law major Anika Amin likes having a football team, also, but she feels that the athletic fee should be lowered and the funds transferred to other important areas.
“I feel that the college football team has a really positive influence when students come together for tailgates and game day activities,” Amin said. “But the price of the fee should be lowered and spread throughout more important sections of the university, such as counseling, career and medical services; I feel that counseling and career services can actually help in supporting and preparing students for the many different aspects of life,” Amin explained. “In terms of medical fees (which is $32.70), I think that it is so much more important because health is more significant than entertainment, which in this case would be football and other sports.”
According to Stephens, in comparison with peer schools, UTSA’s football team ranks third in Conference USA in average home attendance and have finished second in each of the last two years. In fact, according to GoUTSA, going into the 2015-2016 season, UTSA’s average home attendance was 27,576 people.
Although some students may criticize the athletic fees, the football team’s losing record and other things, many of them appreciate the intangible benefits the team gives the institution and enjoy coming together to cheer for their fellow “Runners.”