The athletic fee bill, which has been passed by four of the five student governments, is one step closer to reality as it will be moving on to ASU President Michael Crow’s office as early as next week for approval before going to the Arizona Board of Regents.
The fee, if approved by Crow and ABOR, will be implemented in fall of 2014, but the big question surrounding it is what students will get out of the extra $150 per year.
According to the official bill released last week, the fee will be used to establish a shared governance system between the Associated Students of Arizona State University and Sun Devil Athletics.
“Through the establishment of this fee, the tuition dollars traditionally allocated to Sun Devil Athletics will be reinvested into the university system in order to grant additional services as identified by ASASU, making students effective stakeholders in both Sun Devil Athletics and the university system,” the official bill said.
The major point in the bill will allow students free tickets to football and men’s basketball games. Students will receive free admission to all Sun Devil Athletics sporting events with a guaranteed 25 percent of seats reserved for the new student section defined as the “Inferno.”
The Inferno will be located in the lower bowl of Sun Devil Stadium.
Twenty-five percent will triple the number of students who now attend football games.
USG Tempe President Jordan Davis explained the Inferno section in a student forum Friday on the Tempe campus and said the athletic fee will be used, so no students have to pay extra money for reserved tickets.
“We have marketing students making sure that the Inferno, which is the student section at football and basketball games, will be as awesome as it possibly can be, giving us the in-game experience that we deserve as the largest university in the nation,” he said.
If the fee is implemented, a lottery system will be put in place for students to receive tickets to football and men’s basketball games.
Along with the tickets to sporting events, the fee will provide other services and improve some current ones.
According to the official bill, there will be an increase in financial, professional and academic support for graduate students.
Areas which will benefit include increasing stipends for research assistants and teaching assistants, an increase in the number of research assistant and teaching assistant positions and career service support for all graduate students.
Better transportation and commuting options across all ASU locations seven days a week will also be implemented.
Students will also get the chance to take graduate test preparation courses for free, and there will be student engagement programming for all undergraduate levels.
Other services that will come out of the reinvestment of tuition hours are a greater focus on academic retention and support for students, extended hours within student service centers, improved training of tutors and consistency in the quality of online courses.
All students will be able to download a variety of computer programs such as Photoshop and Microsoft Office for free.
Veteran resources and support will also be increased, as well as access to family resources and child care support at all ASU locations.
To ensure the money from the athletic fee is going into academics, the Sun Devil Athletics Advisory Board, which will be composed of two undergraduate students from each location plus two graduate students and two alumni will conduct periodic research to make sure money from the fee is being used properly and no tuition dollars are being pulled into athletics, Davis said.
“This is how we know for sure we are getting what we deserve, and what we demand is through this Operations Advisory Board,” Davis said.
USG’s goal is to provide students a way to know where their money is going and this bill provides that, he said.
“Right now the tuition dollars that you pay, you don’t get to control how it is spent,” he said. “Part of your tuition dollars goes to lining coach (Todd) Graham’s pockets, and that’s not right and that’s not something we should have to pay for.”
Davis summed up the idea behind the bill and what it will achieve by saying it’s all about transparency.
“It’s about transparency, knowing where your money is going, knowing how your money is being spent and reinvesting your tuition dollars back into your academic experience,” Davis said.
USG Tempe Senator Devon Mills said the bill’s name has been a bit deceptive because the money from tuition is being reinvested into academics.
“We’re freeing up $10 million in tuition,” he said. “It’s essentially giving the tuition pot an extra $10 million that we can utilize for academic resources and we’re improving both pots for the cost one.”
Several students at a town hall held by USG Tempe on Friday asked how all of these programs and incentives will be affordable with only $10 million.
“It doesn’t match dollar for dollar,” Davis said. “The tuition pot is nearly $980 million and this $10 million that used to be taken from that huge pot and given to athletics is now coming back into that huge pot and they’re not only giving us $10 million, but we can pull from that $980 million and ask for whatever we want.”
USG West President Howard Waldie IV said this bill will allow students to have a voice and power in their university experience.
“I feel that we have made history, and this truly embodies the spirit, pride and tradition of ASU,” he said.
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State Press reporter Lori Jarvis contributed reporting to this story.