Athletics Returns to Explain Student Fee Increase

Jack Maughan and Todd Phelps of NDSU athletics present their proposed student fee increases Monday for funding athletics' budget through spring 2019.
LINDA NORLAND | THE SPECTRUM Jack Maughan and Todd Phelps of NDSU athletics present their proposed student fee increases Monday for funding athletics’ budget through spring 2019The questions weren’t as critical or numerous for NDSU athletics Monday afternoon.

The questions were fewer and criticism less for NDSU athletics Monday.

Returning to present a student fee increase proposal, athletics deputy director Todd Phelps and Jack Maughan, senior associate director for development, again presented athletics’ proposal to increase student fees from $4.70 per credit to $6.37 per credit through spring 2019 to help fund athletics’ “team travel, equipment and supplies.”

Students fund 7 percent of NDSU athletics’ budget, or $1.4 million. The proposed increase is up 35.5 percent.

Phelps and Maughan were met with a storm questions and criticism Friday at a previous open forum where they originally presented the proposal.

Phelps said athletics’ proposed increase would bring student fees to $2.9 million funding athletics budget.

The two also brought athletics’ budget, travel costs and contingency plan, as requested Friday by a forum attendee.

Their PowerPoint slide detailing athletics’ fiscal year budget listed current funding, including $1.4 million allocated solely for “travel, equipment/supplies.”

For fiscal years 2016 through 2019, athletics’ proposed budget for travel, equipment and supplies is estimated between $3.62 million to $3.95 million, an increase between 158 and 182 percent in budgeting for travel and equipment for fiscal year 2016 from current numbers. Travel and equipment is funded at $1.4 million.

Athletic’s contingency plan included “reduction of overall team travel,” “reduction of overall team equipment/supplies” and increasing fundraising by raising ticket prices, dues and memberships.

Conner Swanson, a 2014 student fee advisory board member, returned Friday and further questioned Phelps and Maughan regarding a fee increase athletics and other organizations received in 2014 as part of a five-year plan.

“One question you didn’t answer was the question I asked on Friday … when I asked, ‘What has changed since … 2014, when there was a five-year budget plan?'” Swanson said to Phelps and Maughan.

Swanson said athletics received an increase of $300,000 for a five-year plan in 2014, from $1.1 million to the current $1.4 million funded by student fees.

“Why the change from a five-year plan to being back two years later?” Swanson asked.

Phelps said he and Maughan “went back … and called who gave this presentation before.” That was Pat Frederickson, associate athletic director for business.

“She didn’t really know about the not coming back in the five years, or didn’t recollect that, so we couldn’t get a clear answer on that,” Maughan said.

“We looked at it across the board, from 2002 … to the increase in 2014 … and what we’re able to discern from the conversation is that it wasn’t clear that this was projected out for five years,” Phelps said, adding factors of “costs and inflation” and “still not being on par with our peer institutions.”

Swanson then referenced meeting minutes from the 2014 SFAB, including a quote he said is from Walter Lanza, former office of finance executive commissioner.

“And he said this is a five-year goal … but a five-year goal for funding and then the intention was to be back in five years to look at increases. …. In the minutes, it does clearly say this was a five-year intention,” Swanson said.

“Fair enough,” Phelps said.

Swanson added he made the motion in 2014 to increase the student activity fee for athletics and other campus organizations.

“I kinda feel like students are being betrayed right now by being asked for more money when we were told it’d be a five-year plan,” he said.

The SFAB will meet Feb. 3. The SFAB advises President Dean Bresciani on confirming fee increases.

One Reply to “Athletics Returns to Explain Student Fee Increase”

  1. In my eyes, this is some poor representation of our athletic program. Obviously, they were not prepared to answer any real questions or be scrutinized. I understand that we are trying to stay competitive, but this looks like the NDSU Athletic Department is trying to rob the bank. There are many different alternatives that the Athletic Department could come up with, merely scaling back is not a good or realistic solution. I do not see how we can justify not following a plan that was clearly agreed upon. Overall, disappointed to see our institution trying to take from the students that they are supposed to serve.

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