Students can expect an increase in athletics fees by fall 2022.
The athletics department hosted an Athletics Fee Public Hearing on Oct. 19 in the Auditorium. Darnell Smith, director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports proposed an increase in the athletics fee and discussed the future of athletics at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Currently students are charged $10 per credit hour in athletics fees. The fee covers recruiting, salaries, scholarship, field maintenance, conference fees, NAIA fee and operation fees.
At the hearing, Smith proposed a 5% increase that would take the fee to $10.50 and then increase by 5% again by fall 2023 totaling to $11.
The proposal was approved by the Student Government Association.
Previously, the student body had voted in March of 2019 on whether or not to add athletics to the campus.
Speaker of the Senate Iris Castillo said SGA made the decision because they have the ability to increase a fee up to 5%. Anything higher would need a referendum and need the approval of the governor then come back down to the university.
“The athletic fee was something that was added in so that it needed referendum and that needed to be approved by the entire student body because of the amount and monumental decision on it,” Castillo said in response to why SGA voted.
During the hearing, Smith said the NAIA requires their members to have at least six sports by their fourth year of membership. To meet this requirement, Smith said he wants to grow at a steady pace while keeping the students in mind.
Smith projected the fee increases should amount to about $66,000 in 2023 then roughly $69,000 in 2024 in revenue.
“It’s not a lot, but at the same time it’s enough to help us move forward, meet NAIA eligibility standards, but also to not burden you all financially,” Smith said.
Smith said he is looking to add men’s and women’s cross country next.
“We have the right terrain and climate to be able to have a championship caliber cross country program,” Smith said.
During an interview on Oct. 12, Smith said these hypothetical fee increases are all for the betterment of the department and the university.
“I would like to increase it enough so that we can at least bring on two more sports,” Smith said how much the fees would be increasing.
Smith said he has considered adding other sports as well such as basketball, volleyball, baseball and football but there are many logistical things that go into adding the sports.
For example, if the university wanted to add basketball, the fee would need to increase by 38%. Along with that a stand alone facility for basketball would cost about $100,000 with extra costs on top of that to maintain it, Smith said.
“With basketball it’s going to cost, annually, about $500,000 to have a competitive basketball program,” Smith said.
Some students like Camron Colwell, communication freshman and men’s soccer team goalkeeper, see the increase as a great opportunity for the university to grow.
“Having new sports is obviously a good thing,” Colwell said before the hearing. “It brings a lot of attention to the school. It brings more people to the school which will obviously help out the school in the long run.”
The budget for these fees heavily relies on student enrollment. Smith said he hopes enrollment continues to increase as it did this past fall. The more students who attend the university in turn provides more income for the university to expand and develop in many different avenues.
“The budget that I’m projecting based on the sports should hopefully cover those sports assuming that everything else holds true,” Smith said in the Oct. 12 interview.
Smith said these potential increases are all for growth of the university. Smith said he wants to build a strong foundation for the university to build upon in the future.
“The more students we have here, the more sports we can afford which directly ties to the budget,” Smith said in the Oct. 12 interview. “The more that I can provide, depending on what students are willing to pay for.”