Student portion of athletic budget could be increased

Justin Satzman

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Originally Published March 6, 2006

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics announced its recommendation to increase students’ share of the CSUN athletic budget March 2.

CSUN’s share of the athletic budget would drop from 60 percent to 33.3 percent of the budget, with the student’s share rising to 33.3 percent from 28 percent.

Outside money, such as sponsorships, fundraising and event revenues would make up one-third of the budget, according to the report.

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s report states as a key recommendation “a goal that each sector (including CSUN general fund, students and external community, which) contribute about one-third of the budget is a reasonable one within five to seven years.”

Chad Charton, A.S. President, said the possibility of raising student fees has been discussed.

“If we wanted to allocate more money with the current funds that we have, it would not require referendum,” Charton said.

“(Raising campus fees) is certainly one option that some campuses have used,” said Jolene Koester, CSUN president. “We will have to have discussions with a variety of people about what some of the financial avenues are.”

Having a competitive athletic program is important to the university, and to become a more competitive university, the commission recommends the university enhance the soccer field with permanent bleachers, enhance the Matadome with expanded seating and new concession space and enhance the baseball stadium with a newly graded field, according to the commission report.

The commission advised the Athletics Department to enhance marketing of large sporting events and work with all departments to create a unified fan base at CSUN.

The commission also recommended that the university develop a financial plan that enables the Athletics Department to achieve its goals.

“Raising funds would be talking to alumni and getting them involved,” said Mo Qayoumi, chair of the commission and vice president and chief financial officer of Administration and Finance. “We need to get people to come to the campus and recognize that this is going to be a long-term process.”

Qayoumi did mention, however that university officials would talk with Associated Students about the possibility of raising money from the student body.

John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson, said that while the university cannot raise state fees, campus fees could be raised with a referendum from A.S. in the same way fees were increased for the USU renovations and to support Klotz Health Center programs.

“Even though a lot of students do not live on campus, we have many services that keep our students longer on campus,” Qayoumi said. “We have better food facilities, we have study halls and we have areas where students can hang around. Students are spending a lot more time on campus than they did seven or eight years ago.”

“(We) need to try and find ways for students to have a stronger sense of ownership and pride for the athletic program,” he said. “This will be an issue of marketing the program.”

The commission also recommended that the Athletics Department get more involved in student life, to improve the student athletes graduation rates at CSUN and put an increased emphasis on ethics when hiring prospective athletic candidates.

The commission recommends having additional academic advising, managed by the Athletics Department to achieve better graduation rates for student athletes.

The report found that only 53 percent of student athletes who first started at CSUN between 1995 and 1998 graduated within six years.

The commission also recommends an academic facility for student athletes be established.

The facility would be conveniently located by the Athletics Department. If implemented, it would have a computer lab, a study hall and counselors.

When ethics are involved, the commission recommends when hiring new staff, extensive searches on a candidate’s commitment and background be considered.

The commission would also want the candidate to recruit students who demonstrate a balance between athletic and academic interest.

In order for all of these recommendations to take place, the commission advised that CSUN officials develop a financial plan that enables Intercollegiate Athletics to achieve the recommendations of the commission. The commission said that discussions must begin with students and Associated Students leadership to see if they are willing to support a “true” National College Athletic Association Division-I program.

“Intercollegiate athletics is a vital part of the college atmosphere,” Koester said. “The Blue Ribbon Commission is a blueprint to make intercollegiate athletics a vital part of the San Fernando Valley.”