Athletics’ fee hikes discussed

By Paul Wagner

A proposed $6 increase in student athletic fees could wipe out the athletic department’s $370,000 deficit within the next two fiscal years.

The proposed increase was discussed but not approved at Thursday’s President’s Fee Study Committee meeting. A decision on the fee hike is expected to come at Thursday’s meeting.

If the increase is approved, the deficit is expected to be reduced to $49,000 at the end of FY88. The deficit would be eliminated sometime in FY89, and a surplus could be generated by the end of that year, said committee member Pat Hewitt, assistant director of budget and planning.

Committee Chairman Anthony Fusaro, assistant provost for budget and space, said if expenses remain at current levels and projected income holds up, a surplus of $250,000 would result.

Susie Pembroke-Jones, director of women’s intercollegiate athletics, said a surplus that large is unlikely because expenses might not remain constant. She said expenses have been “kept lean” for a long time as a result of the deficit.

Athletics are “terribly underfunded,” said men’s athletics director Robert Brigham. This is particularly true of non-revenue sports, he said.

When questioned about money given to athletes for meals during road trips, Brigham said, “No one is getting a first class meal.”

Pembroke-Jones said athletes are usually allotted $15 for meals based on three meals per day. She said the state recommends $17 per day and is planning on increasing it to $20. NIU could not afford to keep up with this increase, she said.

Student member Lisa Schlepp, Student Association treasurer, said students should not pay for the deficit in one lump sum, but rather spread the payments over two or three years.

Spreading the payments would mean the interest on the deficit would have to be paid over a longer period of time. SA President Jim Fischer, who is also a member, said he was concerned over who had the burden of paying the interest on the loan.

Another way of spreading the payments would be to collect fees during the summer semester. Fusaro said NIU has not collected fees during the summer as other universities do, but the committee could recommend it. He said the argument against collecting fees in the summer is that many of the services such as the Huskie Busline are not offered during the summer.

Fischer said he would like to see the review process carried out throughout the year, so expenses which could be reduced could be identified before the president’s committee meets each February.