Congratulations to the common sense and involvement of the student body at football powerhouse Clemson.
1 - Clemson is getting ready to play Alabama for the college football title.
2 - But unlike the vast majority of colleges, big and small, Clemson doesn't charge its students fees to pay for its athletic department.
Both accomplishments are rarities in the world of college sports where the vast majority of schools don't play for national titles and don't even try to pay their own way, even though most students don't attend the games they play. They just unwittingly and/or unwillingly pay and usually have to borrow money in the form of student loans to do so.
Why Clemson's Students Wouldn't Pay For Sports is subtitled 'The Tigers have reached college football's national title game without money from students to cover athletic costs:'
"A peek at the balance sheet of Clemson’s athletic department is all it takes to see the school is sitting on an untapped source of revenue: its students.
Clemson, like most schools, brings in more money than ever from athletics. But even its record $74 million of reported athletic revenue last year was below average compared with other universities in the increasingly rich world of big-time college sports.
That’s why Clemson went searching for more. The school didn’t have to flip sofa cushions for spare change. It turned out there was a already a gold mine on campus.
Clemson was the only public university in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year—and one of a dwindling number across the country—not charging a specific student fee for the athletic department. Introducing one seemed like an easy way to make a lot of money. Each undergraduate paying up to $350 may not sound like much, but eventually it would have brought in $6 million per year.
Then something unusual happened. Months of talks about a potential sports fee broke down after many Clemson students asked a question that often goes overlooked when it comes to the infusion of cash in college sports: Why?
“We told them point blank that we didn’t see any need for students to pay the fee,” said Maddy Thompson, the president of Clemson’s student government at the time.
Their opposition set off a series of events last school year that ended with Clemson’s athletic department quietly backing away from the idea of a student fee. School officials said this week that the concept has been tabled, but there is a possibility they could ask students for future funds.
Clemson doesn’t seem to be suffering. The Tigers play for the national championship Monday after finishing the regular season as the nation’s No. 1 team. The only thing between Clemson and its first title since 1981 is Alabama—a school with annual sports revenues that are twice the size of Clemson’s.
Clemson’s surprise season comes after extensive conversations last year about the fee. It was discussed with the student government for months before it was presented last October to the school’s athletic advisory council.
But it was never proposed to Clemson’s board of trustees for ultimate approval because it was clear that the overwhelming majority of students were against it. One survey conducted by the student government put the opposition at 85%. . . .
“Based on their input, the decision was made not to go forward,” a university spokeswoman said.
Clemson’s administrators say they weren’t surprised that cash-strapped college students rejected paying for something they weren’t convinced was needed. But they were taken aback for another reason: Those students wouldn’t have been the ones footing the bill.
As it was discussed, the student fee wouldn’t have been included in tuition for the roughly 17,000 undergraduates in school at the time. Those students would have been grandfathered into not paying the extra cost. Athletic officials said the additional $350 would have been levied only on incoming students who weren’t yet in college—and Clemson’s student government still shot it down.
“I think they were looking out for their cousins, brothers and sisters—people who they know and are looking to come to Clemson,” said athletic director Dan Radakovich. . . .
To help pay for rising athletic costs, many schools lean on students who don’t play sports. Student subsidies have brought in more than $10 billion over the last five years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, while revenue from student fees at other ACC public schools range from $1.9 million to $13.2 million.
Clemson and Alabama, who square off in Monday’s championship game, are the rare exceptions. Clemson is more unusual still: It doesn’t charge students for tickets to football games. . . .
Clemson’s officials are now considering another option. While there haven’t been discussions about student fees, the school says it may charge for student tickets."
If students or others want to buy tickets to see a Clemson sporting event in person, charging them to do so makes sense. That's how free markets work.
But when colleges (big and small) charge students several hundreds of dollars each year in fees, as most colleges do, solely and secretly for the 'privilege' of attending a college whose athletic department can't pay for itself, that's wrong.
Let's take the lid off college budgets, including sports, and see what's really happening to cause college costs and student loans to be so high. Let's discover the places and activities where students (and taxpayers) aren't receiving adequate value for money.
The athletic department would be a good place to look first.
That's my take.