The ASUO Executive and the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee are sending a message to the athletic department: “We’re not getting our money’s worth,” ACFC Chair Sen. Ben Bowman said.
So both the Executive and the ACFC have recommended the athletic department receive no increase in its student-fee funded budget for next year.
It wasn’t a hard decision.
“There was unanimous agreement in the committee and the Executive,” Bowman said.
“Students deserve more for less,” ASUO President Ben Eckstein said.
Following the Ducks’ win against Stanford Saturday night, it has become public knowledge there will be no free student tickets for the potential upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game at Autzen Stadium. Students who want to attend the game — assuming the Ducks win the North Division — will need to purchase them at a cost of $45. Moreover, all student tickets not sold by Monday night will become full price and eligible for the general public.
ACFC member Sen. Bri Woodside-Gomez said that the committee had no say in any of the student ticketing decisions for the Pac-12 Championship Game.
“That was completely not through the ACFC process,” she said.
The ACFC announcement also comes on the heels of the University’s release of a memorandum of understanding between former University President Dave Frohnmayer and former athletic director Pat Kilkenny. This agreement details a $375,000 annual payment by the University administration to the athletic department for the use of Autzen Stadium’s presidential suite — nearly the equivalent of current University President Richard Lariviere’s $426,936 annual salary.
The agreement also fixed the athletic department’s assessment rate at 3 percent through 2012. Assessments are payments University departments and programs pay to the University for administrative services. The assessment rate for most organizations, including the ASUO, is more than twice that at 7 percent. Eckstein referenced this agreement in his comments on the benchmark.
“The athletic department gets more than we even know,” he said. “This is one way of making sure that students get a fair shake.”
While Woodside-Gomez, like every member of the ACFC, voted for zero percent growth for the athletic department, she’s not sure that the final agreement will represent that rate.
“Basically, we’re using it as a bargaining chip,” she said. “Do we actually think it will be zero? No. We’re kind of going in being like, ‘Your budget has gone up and up and up, and student seats haven’t gone up any. You are not getting any more money until we get more tickets.’”
Bowman said negotiations with the athletic department would begin soon and hoped they would produce a “better, more fair agreement.” He said that the size of the agreement — the ASUO’s single largest yearly expenditure — was a “burden on the student government.”
“We just think it should be something that all students have access to,” he said.
On a related, but separate note, he also said that student season tickets may be reexamined this year. These season tickets, given to students who pay a fee at the beginning of the football season, were instituted last year to provide students willing to pay an extra amount with guaranteed access to each game.
He said he has heard both praise and criticism of this program, though he did add that the people who have been happy with the student season ticket program “are generally the people who have them.”
The ACFC’s benchmark will be set along with all other finance committee benchmarks at this week’s Student Senate meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in the EMU Walnut Room.