Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Out of your pocket and onto the field.

Leslie Bates strode to the podium at last Friday’s University Wide Council meeting on the Treasure Coast campus, clasping a page from the Sun-Sentinel in his hand. The 6-foot-plus Dean of Students glared at the top SG leaders who comprise the UWC.

“I like to address students when I have a special concern,” Bates boomed, looking directly at Student Body President Dan Wilson. “This article is from the June 30th Sun-Sentinel local section titled, ‘FAU students blast increase in fees to bail out sports debt.'” Bates held up the story for the 11 UWC members to see.

As those SG leaders sat quietly, perhaps waiting for a tongue-lashing from an administrator, Bates’ face softened and he said, “You did a fabulous job. If you were there, you know what a great job your president and others did.”

Wilson smiled. Bates did, too.

What was the “job” Bates was referring to? It was Wilson’s performance at his first meeting of FAU’s Board of Trustees since he was elected president – and since the president sits on the board, it was Wilson’s first as a voting member of the most powerful group on campus. Wilson is also the only BOT member who will have to pay the fee.

Wilson and other SG leaders spoke out strongly against the fee. MacArthur SG Governor Jared Valez stood in front of the BOT and told them how his campus will see very few advantages from the increase, while Treasure Coast Senate Speaker Helen Marshall read a statement from other Treasure Coast students who could not make the 90-minute drive to Boca for the meeting. “It is our duty to oppose this measure,” Broward Governor Gian Amato told the BOT.

But it was Wilson who dropped the biggest bomb on the BOT: “Students are so down about this $2 increase that they feel that their way of getting back at the university is to not come to the games, and that is my biggest fear.”

In the end the BOT voted to take the students money, forcing them to pay the highest athletics fee in the state – $13.75 per-credit-hour.

Since the football team took the field against Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 1, 2001, for its first game, tuition for undergraduates has risen from $2,698.80 to $3,246.70, and graduate tuition has gone up from $4,131.36 to $5,848.92.

“I’ve heard lots of discussion among students, and the most extreme was talk of boycotting football,” Wilson said.

This past March, FAU President Frank Brogan and former Student Body President Alvira Khan formed a committee of student and administration leaders to discuss the athletics fee. Its main focus was to find money to wipeout football’s substantial debt. The committee was almost stopped due to lack of attendance by SG officials on two occasions. Khan, Former Senate Speaker David Johnson and Wilson, who was Boca Campus Governor at the time, all missed meetings to discuss the athletics fee.

At the last of these March meetings, Brogan said, “What can we do to say to the students: ‘We are recommending a fee to the BOT’? One of the things we’ve come up with is a commitment to the students. With a two-buck increase, we would commit to a fiveyear freeze to not raise again. This would show it isn’t permanent.”

According to Wilson, the BOT locked in the athletics fee on June 29 with a promise of no further increases for three years.

Marshall and Wilson asked throughout the March meetings about opportunities for football to run without debt or to turn a profit.

“Isn’t it extremely rare for a football program to make money anywhere?” Marshall asked Director of Athletics Craig Angelos on March 7.

Angelos responded, “You are generally right. Top programs – UM, FSU and UF – all run in the black. You have $2.9 million worth of costs every year. We are a young department and aren’t making anymore than we spend.” He later added that the football team “makes” $1 million a year.

The athletics fee will raise around $1.25 million for the football team.

At the March committee meetings, Angelos laid out the proposals to balance the football budget of the next year, including the newly imposed athletics fee. Several options were presented, one of which was playing games against other universities for money.

Brogan explained, “We have some opportunities – game guarantees. When we play Louisville, because of who they are, we will get money to let them beat on us for two hours. It is how we grow our program.”

The students, through SG, have also been funding the new library expansion project. Since the beginning of the project, according to Senate Speaker Pro-Tempore Peter J. Torres, SG has given around $1.1 million dollars to fund it.

When asked if he thought the administration would seek funding for the football program from SG directly, Wilson replied, “They can come to us for money, but they won’t get it.”

While Wilson is using strong rhetoric to defend student interests, he’s also a big fan of the football team. “We [Wilson and his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers] go to all the games. We tailgate and have signs, it’s a great time.” He also encouraged all SG officials and students to attend games at the June 30 Senate meeting: “We are paying for this, we should support it and go.”

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