Athletic fees are a commonality at many universities across the country, and ASU's mandatory $75 begs the question: what does the athletic fee pay for?
According to ASU, the student athletic fee "provides cost free unlimited access to all regular season ASU sports, insures students have access to 25 percent of the seating in all athletic venues and insures that tuition revenue will only support core academic programs and services."
ASU's athletic fee is currently $75, and according to Jackson Dangremond the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown president, the money goes towards programs, incentives and activities related to athletics.
Dangremond wrote in an email that the items that fee revenue is spent on can include game-day giveaways, University marketing, maintenance and more.
“The fee was created with the intent to only have tuition cover academic-related expenses,” Dangremond said. “Budgetary decisions on the utilization of the fee are made by the Sun Devil Athletics and Game Day Operations Board.”
In 2016, ASU made $94.6 million during the fiscal year – up from 2015 when ASU Athletics recorded a then record-high $84 million, according to USA Today. ASU's mandatory student fee racked in $10.5 million, which was up from 2015 when the student fee brought in $9.9 million to the athletic department.
ASU also said that the objective of the athletic fee was to provide clarity.
“The goal of the athletic fee was to provide transparency for where the money was going and greater student control over how it was spent,” ASU said. “The athletic fee was a student-driven initiative – a proposal that was vetted by the student body via town halls and other formats.”
While some may think ASU's athletic fee is steep, the Sun Devils' athletic fee is considerably low compared to some similarly sized schools across the country, like the University of Central Florida. UCF charges students $14.32 per credit hour, amounting to over $180 for a full-time student taking 13 credits.
But unlike ASU's fee, which according to Dangremond, doesn't pay for salaries, UCF's athletic fee contributes to "the costs of athletics aid for student-athletes, game expenses, operation of facilities and salaries for coaches, administration and staff," according to Nicholson Student Media.
Andy Seeley, associate athletic director at UCF, said the process for choosing the fee involves student and campus leadership.
“The athletics department may at times bring forward a recommendation for the amount of the fee,” Seeley said. “But that is ultimately decided as part of a larger process, involving student and campus leadership.”
Of the top ten largest schools in the country, several do not have athletic fees. Many universities give students the opportunity to purchase tickets for sporting events or take part in a ticketing option, such as the "Big Ticket" at the University of Texas.
These schools instead opt for students to pay for the events they want to go to rather than instating a mandatory charge for all sports.
ASU's athletic fee is higher than Pac-12 rival Arizona – the Wildcats enforce an athletic fee of $50 per semester for the undergraduate population, which has been enforced since the fall of 2017.
The University of Colorado, another Pac-12 school, charges students a fee of $28.50 per semester, but that fee doesn't completely cover the cost of attending games.
Although this fee is lower than other large universities, Dangremond said it's important to note that the students selected the price of the fee.
“(The) $75 (value) was selected because, at the time of implementation, total appropriations and revenue — it replaced the $10 million going to athletics from tuition,” Dangremond said.
He said the implementation of the fee means that, in theory, money from tuition will no longer be directed towards athletics. Instead, it will go to other programs and incentives.
“In addition, the original charter states that the fee will not be allocated by Sun Devil Athletics for any salary or recruitment purposes,” Dangremond said. “... No funds from tuition will be allocated by the University to Sun Devil Athletics as long as the fee exists.”
According to Seeley, UCF’s fee goes into the athletic department’s annual operating budget and provides students with free admission to all athletic events, much like schools across the country.
“The department strives to make the student experience at UCF Athletics events as enjoyable as possible,” Seeley said. “We do numerous giveaways and hold a number of events for our students throughout the course of the year at all of our venues.”