Rescue UH teams with student fees


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

Economic distress threatens to cause havoc in the University of Hawaii's athletic program, and athletic director Jim Donovan worries that one or two sports might have to be dropped. Instead, the university should dip into a source of revenue that is the norm at colleges across the country - student activity fees.

The candidates mentioned by Donovan as possible sports to be dropped - baseball, swimming, men's volleyball or men's tennis - should be kept. UH now fields teams in seven men's sports, 11 for women and coed sailing, and the choices for possible extinction are limited by Western Athletic Conference and gender-equity laws.

Athletic departments at universities nationwide receive more than $1 billion in student fees and general school funds and services, according to an Indianapolis Star study of 2004-05 budgets of 164 of the country's 215 largest public institutions. Otherwise, according to the analysis, fewer than 10 percent of the athletic departments would operate in the black.

UH and Louisiana Tech are the only members of the nine-university WAC that do not charge student fees to support their athletic departments. Student-fee revenues at the other WAC athletic departments range from $355,508 at Fresno State to nearly $2.4 million at Boise State, according to the Star analysis.

Student senates at Manoa have been presented with proposed student activity fees for decades and have routinely voted them down. The time has come to approve such a fee.