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Proposed Campus Fee Adjustments

Athletics Fee Adjustment

Introduction

Intercollegiate Athletics has historically played a vital role in the Chico State experience. The Wildcats have been competing in sports since before the turn of the century. Annually ranked among the nation’s highest-achieving NCAA Division II programs, the Department of Athletics provides one of the pillars of our campus identity, bringing recognition to the University throughout the state, region, and nation, which leads to alumni pride and positive reach to prospective students.

Chico State Athletics boasts a long history of sustained excellence. For example, since joining the California Collegiate Athletic Association 20 years ago (for the 1998-99 academic year), Chico State Athletics has appeared in the NCAA Championships 153 times, claimed 72 CCAA titles, won 37 NCAA West Region titles, and earned 17 NCAA championships.

Athletics plays a vital role in fulfilling the University’s missions in the areas of academics, diversity, and public service. Chico State sponsors 13 NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic teams with over 350 students participating each year. More than 20 students are regularly employed by the department in a variety of event management capacities and nearly 10,000 students attend home athletic events free of charge over the course of an academic year.  The average GPA and graduation rates of our student-athletes consistently exceed the campus average. Chico State’s coaches and student-athletes help foster a climate that acknowledges and celebrates the differences that define who we are. High-caliber coaches and staff help prepare our student-athletes annually with the attitudes, skills, and habits of lifelong learning and teamwork. Our student-athletes help to set a tone of service on campus, volunteering in local schools and in the community, and giving of their time and money to support campus initiatives such as the Wildcat Food Pantry.  

Additionally. athletics provide a bridge to the community of Chico and beyond, generating a positive outlet and inviting them to be a part of our Wildcat Family.

Organized recreational sport activity was introduced at Chico State many decades ago. The program was designed to meet increasing student demand for recreational sport programming and competitive opportunities that could not be absorbed by varsity athletics. The current Recreational Sports, Intramural and Sport Club program continues the mission to serve all Chico State students by providing activities that promote and advance healthy lifestyles. Studies have shown that students who participate in recreational sports opportunities have increased retention rates, improved health and wellness, and a more favorable opinion of their college experience. Additionally, participation in recreational sport opportunities has been shown to strengthen interpersonal skills, including managing emotions and developing competence, autonomy, and integrity.

The Intramural program boasts the largest participation numbers with 4,000 unique students recording over 29,000 participation opportunities last year in a variety of organized sport leagues and events. Program offerings are assessed annually to insure the changing needs of the student population are being met and programming remains relevant.  The Recreational Sports program employs over 100 students annually to serve in a variety of important roles required to manage sport activity including sports supervisors and officials, program assistants, and sport club officers. The Chico State Sport Club program provides an opportunity for students who desire to continue participating competitively during their college experience when varsity sport opportunities are not available.  Currently, Chico State sponsors 20 competitive sport clubs and 6 recreational sports clubs, serving 1100 students.  This student-led, student-funded program provides an outstanding opportunity for developing student leadership. Students learn valuable communication, problem solving, budgeting, organizational and leadership skills.

The Athletics Fee was overwhelmingly supported by a student referendum in May 1992 to provide funding necessary to save the Intercollegiate Athletics program and enhance the Recreational Sports program.  Facing the withdrawal of state funding that would have resulted in the elimination of Intercollegiate Athletics, the largest student vote on record approved the fee by a vote of 63% to 37%.  Once approved the fee provided the necessary operational funding for the Intercollegiate Athletics program, free admission to regularly enrolled students for all home athletic events and free access for regularly enrolled students to Intramural Sports programs.

Sport has always been the common bond between Chico State Athletics and Recreational Sports.  Historically the programs were united in one department. An organizational change was made in 2007, upon the opening of the WREC, to better align Chico State with national trends in campus recreational sport activity and better serve the student population. Today the programs operate as two distinct units but the spirit of the original fee is still honored.

Challenges

The current challenges facing Athletics and Recreational Sports are the result of increasing operational, salary and employer benefit costs that have exceeded the pace of enrollment growth and Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases on the current fee. The base Athletic Fee approved in 1992 was $40/semester. Except for limited inflation adjustments, the base fee has been adjusted one time in 25 years. Operational efficiency and disciplined spending has deferred the need for a fee increase for the last decade. However, the current fee of $97/semester is simply not adequate to sustain the current Intercollegiate Athletics program or continue to expand the Recreational Sports, Intramurals and Sport Club programs.

Simply put, the Intercollegiate Athletics program will face elimination without an increase in operational dollars to meet the rising costs of sponsoring a NCAA Division II program. The minimum membership requirement for a NCAA Division II institution is sport sponsorship of 10 intercollegiate teams. With the current sport configuration of 13 varsity teams, there is no combination of budget cuts or team reductions that will allow the program to continue at the current funding level.

Recreational Sports, Intramurals and Sport Clubs continue to face the rising costs of student wages, Sport Club travel, insurance, and mandatory athletic training requirements.  Continuing popular programming options and further expanding programs to reach more students may not be possible at the current funding levels.

Proposal

The proposal is to increase the Athletics Fee by $51/semester beginning in fall 2018 with an additional $3/semester increase annually for five years. After academic year 2023-24 the fee will increase by the application of CPI.  The funds generated will provide operational funding for Chico State Athletics well into the future and allow for significant enhancements to the Recreational Sports program.

Students can expect the following impacts from the fee adjustment:

  • Continuation of our competitively successful Intercollegiate Athletics program
  • Continued free admission to all home athletic events for regularly enrolled students
  • Expanded Intramural Sports programming including increased night and weekend programming opportunities
  • Increased funding for Sport Clubs
  • Increased resources to maintain student employment levels in Recreational Sports
  • A new athletic training position to address the health and safety requirement for Sport Club student-athletes