Students attending an open forum Friday regarding proposed student fee increases had criticism and questions for NDSU athletics.
The Tier I organization requested a 35.5 percent increase in student fees from $4.70 per credit to $6.37 per credit over the next three years.
Todd Phelps, athletics deputy director, and Jack Maughan, senior associate athletic director for development, presented their PowerPoint outlining the needs for increased student fees for athletics. Their reasons given include “to be more competitive with comparable universities, and to maintain the success that we have had recently.”
The open forum was one of four scheduled between Thursday and Monday for student input on increased fee proposals regulated by the Student Fee Advisory Board.
Athletics’ proposal was met with over 25 minutes of questions and comments from forum participants.
One male attendee pointed out his concerns about NDSU athletics’ budget breakdown, which Maughan said he would bring Monday to a followup forum, along with athletics’ contingency plan should SFAB reject their proposal.
The same participant called a proposed priority points system “a gross misuse” of student fees in funding ticket priorities for graduated students instead of using student fees for current or future students.
“This does not promote that,” the participant said.
Maughan discussed the priority points system for graduates who would like season or single-game tickets.
“We think there should be a benefit for our students when they’re paying and helping us through the athletic department. They start accruing those priority points ahead of time,” Maughan said. “Our proposal is that if we can go ahead and get this three-year commitment and raise this up that you will start getting priority points for the total amount of money that you’ve paid when you’re a student here.”
“We’d like to have you jump if you ever decide to come back, because you paid tuition, you did that,” Maughan responded to the participant’s criticism. “You’re such an important part of our relationship and our atmosphere, that’s why we threw that in there.”
Other attendees also criticized athletics’ proposal, ranging from a 2014 five-year plan for student fees for athletics to waitlisted students for football tickets.
Conner Swanson, who served on the 2014 SFAB, questioned why Phelps and Maughan were requesting a fee increase when athletics and other organizations received an increase for a five-year plan two years ago.
“What has changed and why are you back two years later and not five?” Swanson asked.
“I’d have to go back and take a look at (that fee increase) and get back to you,” Phelps said.
Phelps and Maughan’s presentation focused heavily on a slide detailing a comparison of student fees funding university athletics in which NDSU students paid significantly less than other universities’ in funding athletic budgets.
NDSU students fund 7 percent of NDSU athletics’ budget, or $1.4 million.
Phelps and Maughan said they would like that number to double to “just shy of $3 million,” or around $2.9 million, mainly to help with cost of travel.
“We’re very proud of the success we’re having but then not trying to put it all on the students and tuition and the university,” Maughan said. “We’re doing a lot of external things that most universities our size and even larger ones are doing.”
Phelps and Maughan said they will return to Monday’s noon forum in the Century Theater with requested information, including travel and budget breakdowns and athletics’ contingency plan.
“What’s to say (this plan) is not gonna work again and you’re gonna be back in front of us again every year asking for more money?” Swanson asked.