Editorial board: New student fee rewards irresponsibility


Former WSU athletic director Bill Moos has left the university for a position at University of Nebraska.

The Board of Regents reviewed a plan to reduce WSU Athletics’ $13 million per year deficit on Thursday.

The plan, developed by President Kirk Schulz, Athletic Director Bill Moos and other university officials includes a new $100 student fee per academic year.

The fee, which would only apply to undergraduate students on the Pullman campus, will go to a referendum and calculates to $50 per undergraduate student per semester, Chief University Budget Officer Joan King said at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting.

As students and as an editorial board, we believe this proposed fee sets a precedent that students can be charged every time a university department goes into the red.

No matter how costly the fee, students should not have to pay extra due to poor budgeting by any department, let alone Athletics.

According to a Nov. 23, 2015, article from the Huffington Post, collegiate athletic departments have been making more money than ever before, yet many of those same departments are spending more money than they have in order to compete with other programs.

The same article states that sports programs in the “Power Five” – which includes the Big Ten, Big 12 and PAC-12 conferences – are the most profitable programs in the country, yet are not immune to debt.

These overwhelmingly profitable programs typically go into the red due to an athletic director’s decision to outspend income – not because of a revenue failure.

So, why are students being asked to foot the bill for Moos’ budgeting decisions?

In 2014, Athletics completed a $61 million facilities expansion project, which included a new football operations center, weight and locker rooms, and equipment and training areas.

That same year, Athletics reported approximately $9 million in facility debts as part of the department’s $13.7 million deficit.

A Dec. 21, 2015, Washington Post article stated that facility spending is one of the primary causes of athletic deficits in otherwise profitable programs.

In March 2016, Moos told the Seattle Times that WSU earned less in distribution revenue from the PAC-12 Networks than he had hoped – a mere 1.4 million in comparison to Moos’ goal of $5 or $6 million.

It begs the question – why is Moos spending money before he has cash in hand?

It’s not as if students aren’t already doing their part to fund Athletics; for the 2015 fiscal year, Athletics reported more than $1 million in revenue from mandatory student fees alone.

Mandatory fees include a $25 stadium fee per semester and the 8 percent of Services and Activities (S&A) fees allocated to Athletics, averaging about $22.40 per student per semester for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The proposed fee is set to account for $1.7 million in revenue for Athletics in the 2018 fiscal year – if S&A funding remains the same, Athletics stands to make more than $2.8 million from students in that same year.

This fee does nothing to improve the education of WSU students, many of whom choose not to attend any sporting events and most of whom are not student athletes.

As an editorial board we believe imposing an athletic fee on the general student population is unfair to students and rewards financial irresponsibility. Schulz and Moos shouldn’t have to charge students to fix the Athletics deficit.

A fee might be the easiest way out, but that doesn’t make it the right way.