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EDITORIAL: Students footing the bill on a program constantly in the red

Sacramento+State%27s+athletics+programs+consistently+cost+the+University+and+its+students+excessive+amounts+of+money%3B+in+2016%2C+the+football+team+was+%241%2C560%2C353+in+debt.
Sacramento State's athletics programs consistently cost the University and its students excessive amounts of money; in 2016, the football team was $1,560,353 in debt.

Sacramento State's athletics programs consistently cost the University and its students excessive amounts of money; in 2016, the football team was $1,560,353 in debt.

Tyler McElmurry - The State Hornet

Tyler McElmurry - The State Hornet

Sacramento State's athletics programs consistently cost the University and its students excessive amounts of money; in 2016, the football team was $1,560,353 in debt.

State Hornet

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Athletics at Sacramento State is not something that drives most students to attend, so why does the University feel like it needs to spend millions of dollars on something those students don’t get a fair return on?

As of 2016, Sac State students contributed $7,911,933 to the Athletic Department, and the school paid an additional $8,397,723, but the department still managed to finish the year $606,694 in debt.

If you’re familiar with other university-level sports programs and the way they operate their budget, this number may not seem so bad. But for a university whose main identity is not athletics, and who is constantly saying it has money troubles, there is no justifying this outcome.

The department had an overall revenue of $26,741,348 in 2016, meaning that 60 percent of that revenue is made up of student fees and direct institutional support.

Sacramento State has been telling students that it’s hurting for money and needs to fundraise, raise tuition and cancel fall commencement, among other things, in order to keep from really having to break its piggy bank open.

Yet, they continue to pour millions of dollars into an athletic program that is only just recently starting to show promise but still ends up in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s not that just one team is bringing down the rest in terms of lack of revenue. Every team is in debt at the end of their seasons, and the majority of what is keeping the department from completely tanking is the nearly $8 million dollars that the student body is forced to pay.

Every student’s tuition has an additional $141 fee that goes toward athletics each semester, which is why students can get into all home athletic games for “free,” but the average attendance for home football games at Hornet Stadium during the 2017 season was 8,315 people, with the highest attendance at the Causeway Classic with 11,828 people.

Hornet Stadium can seat 21,195 people with an average general admission ticket price for each game at around $20, meaning that, based on the average attendance from this season, all of those empty seats are costing the department $257,597.

As of 2016, the total ticket revenue from all 11 teams that require paid ticket entry was only $251,795.

This not only shows that a big time sport like football, which in 2016 was in debt $1,560,353, draws hardly any interest from the student body, but that just having games puts the program and the department even more in debt.

Considering that Sac State just canceled winter commencement because it couldn’t afford the $150,000-plus price tag to hold it at the Golden 1 Center, it seems ridiculous that it would continue funding a team that is $1.5 million in debt and that loses over a quarter-million dollars every time it hosts a game.

Sac State needs to decide where its true interests lie.

If you want to spend $91 million on your science department, and hopefully on some other departments in the future to better the learning experience for your students, go for it.

If you want to spend $8 million dollars on your athletic program that is in debt and have the student body fork up nearly another $8 million to keep it from completely collapsing, OK.

But you can not have both, Sac State. Your student’s main intent is to come here and learn in order to have a better future — not to subsidize a sports program that cannot balance its budget.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “EDITORIAL: Students footing the bill on a program constantly in the red”

  1. Donene on December 1st, 2017 9:48 am

    Excellent article, Tyler. It is outrageous that fall commencements will be cancelled in the future; this has been a topic of conversation among students recently. How is this justified in light of the fees we as students pay to attend this university (which also fund athletic programs who cannot stay within their budget!) ? Any suggestions for students to voice their concerns to the people who make these decisions? Where do we start this conversation and help to initiate change?

  2. Gabe on December 1st, 2017 6:16 pm

    Yes Sac State can do both, and will continue to do so as it should. Big overreach by the author on that one. Compare the Sac State campus fees to the other football sponsoring CSU campus fees and it’s the 2nd to lowest (Fresno is lowest). No other program on campus can get 11k people on campus for one event. None. Cutting football would eliminate one of Sac State’s most attractive and effective marketing tool. If anyone attended the Homecoming game or the Causeway you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Fall commencement cancellation has nothing to do with the athletics fee and everything to do with not having an on-campus events center. The two aren’t even related so not sure why the author was thinking trying to marry the two issues together. Build an on-campus events center and fall commencement returns.

    https://www2.calstate.edu/attend/paying-for-college/Pages/campus-costs-of-attendance.aspx

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