ACFC voted to give the athletic department a zero percent budget increase in a meeting Tuesday night.
Yesterday, the ASUO Executive recommended the athletic department’s budget should stay at the same level next year, at $1.5 million. However, athletics had expressed hope for at least a three percent increase.
It was clear early on the hearing would present a lengthy debate, but the discussion came down to a relatively small matter of $48,000, or about a 3 percent budget increase. Executive Director of the Duck Athletic Fund Garrett Klassy was adamant in the necessity of the extra money.
“This is a much smaller number than athletics budgeted for this year,” Klassy said. “Cost of business and price of tickets has increased. Every penny is important to us.”
ACFC and the ASUO were not willing to accept this concept and stood firmly by their zero percent increase.
“We don’t have more funds to allocate to the student-ticket program,” ASUO President Ben Eckstein said. “$48,000 is a big deal to the ASUO. I don’t think we can accept a deal that doesn’t reconcile this difference.”
Eckstein went on to explain that $48,000 is a drop in the bucket for athletics but extremely significant for the ASUO, which is entirely student-funded. He also stated this is less than the amount students pay for legal services for the athletic department.
ACFC Chair and Sen. Ben Bowman agreed with Eckstein.
“It is hard for me to see that $48,000 is more integral to athletics than it is to the ASUO,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with the rising costs.”
Klassy listened to the committee’s concerns but stated he would remain firm on his position.
A discussion broke out about better ways to allocate student tickets to football games. Some ideas were voiced, but Bowman made it clear this meeting should be focused on the budget and that ticket allocation will be discussed later.
Klassy also brought up the issue of students who receive tickets but don’t show up to games.
“There were 682 no-shows per game on average last year,” Klassy said. “That is student funds wasted.”
ACFC member and Sen. Brianna Woodside-Gomez suggested a harsher penalty for people who don’t honor their tickets or to extend the deadline to return tickets. She then brought the conversation back to the matter at hand, which was the increase.
“I would be happy to pay more if we were getting more student tickets for football games,” she said. “But right now I don’t want to pay more if we’re not getting more services.”
On behalf of athletics, Klassy expressed qualms about the changes people in the room were suggesting.
“We’re open to all of these things, but none of these systems are free,” he said. “If you want some of these things done, we’re gonna need help.”
ACFC member Andrew Quinlan asked how the athletic department factored in outside donations.
“The reason we have additional funds is because our expenses have gone up,” Klassy responded.
Eckstein then went on to explain how much of a compromise the ASUO has made on this budget, and that it is all the ACFC can afford to allocate at this time.
At the end of the meeting, ACFC decided in a 4-0-0 vote on a zero percent increase. Bowman mentioned that since they have to turn in their budget to ASUO Senate by Thursday, Klassy will have to come back before then and explain if athletics is willing to agree with this decision.
“We’re happy to keep cooperating with Senate and the student body to make it the best experience possible,” Klassy said.