This year, the Utah State University Athletics Department’s slogan is “the climb.” While administrators were probably thinking about athlete performance, their scores and stats aren’t the only thing climbing.
Since 2008, the USU student athletic fee has increase by 311 percent. At this point, the department receives more than $4 million in revenues every year from student fees alone. Yet despite this, they are still claiming a deficit of almost half a million dollars. That’s according to the 2013/2014 USU Appropriated Budget.
The athletics department is requesting $1.5 million from the state legislature this year.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, (R-Logan), said this funding would improve recruitment at USU by incentivizing athletes with stipends. He said other universities in the conference can provide stipends beyond housing and tuition, and USU needs funding to stay competitive.
“When you’re recruiting an athlete, the athlete is usually choosing between Utah State and a major college in a major conference,” Hillyard said. “They’ll be given extra money to attend, to cover their expenses, whereas if they go to Utah State they will not.”
Hillyard referred to the new NCAA provision that was passed a few weeks ago in a vote of 79-1. According to ESPN.com, the provision, called "Full Cost of Attendance," allows colleges in the "Power 5" conferences (SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC) to compensate their athletes with stipends to cover living expenses.
Universities in the remaining "Group of 5" conferences — like the Mountain West to which Utah State belongs — also have the opportunity to follow suit.
Associate Athletic Director Jake Garlock said USU athletes are reimbursed for more than tuition and housing.
“For those athletes on full scholarships, we cover tuition and books but also transportation and food — that kind of stuff," Garlock said. "On-campus housing, we take care of, and if they're off-campus, we stipend it out. They receive four installments throughout the semester."
In 2012, the university was spending six times more on student athletes in athletic spending than students who weren't on athletic teams, according to the Knight Commission.
The $1.5 million request has already been cut in half by the state senate. This does not come as a surprise to Hillyard, however, who said the amount was “unrealistic” to begin with. The request will now go to the Executive Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by Hillyard.