Misused Money

FAU’s troubles filling the stadium has had some unexpected repercussions


Ryan Murphy

[Ryan Murphy | Business Manager]

Josue Simplice, Sports Editor

CaptureIf you’ve never attended an FAU home game within the past three years, your tuition was not put to the best use.

In 2012, FAU increased its athletics fee by 5 percent from $16.45 to $17.27 per credit hour to offset the cost of student fees pledged to Regions Bank, who helped fund the building of the $70 million FAU football stadium.

Three years later that stadium holds a football program that is struggling to succeed, and the increase is worth questioning.

An FAU student who takes 15 credit hours will end up paying $259.05 in athletics fees for that semester. Over the span of an academic year (three semesters), the cost comes out to more than $500. This is money that students miss out on.

With a stadium that averages 14,552 attendees and a football program that has only averaged three wins per year since 2011, the athletics fee has not amended students’ displeasure with the stadium.

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous that we’re being charged for something that we’re not using, I don’t think we should be paying for [FAU Stadium] as students when we’re not the ones who paid to build it,” FAU junior Richard Corcho said.

FAU boasts the fifth-highest athletics fee in the state of Florida. Students at the University of West Florida, Florida International University, Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of North Florida pay more.

Thanks to the hike in the athletics fees, FAU secured $508,400 in revenue for the 2012 academic year and beyond.

A portion of it went to fund the rising costs of scholarships for athletes, summer school, salaries and benefits for the coaching staff, medical insurance, team travel and game officials.

The 82-cent increase was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees. The athletics fee is the second-highest fee per credit hour for an FAU student behind the tuition differential.

Damian Thompson, an FAU student and former accounting major, understands the situation that the school faced in raising the athletics fees.

“The school is a business, the school has to come up with a price and if they’re in debt then they have to raise their prices somewhere to offset that,” said Thompson.

However, not everyone echoes that sentiment.

“I’d rather keep that money in my pocket,” said former FAU student Michael D’Angelo who stopped attending classes this semester because he could no longer pay for them.

The football program has had trouble garnering student interest and attendance. In 2014, the attendance per game for football was 14,552, but according to the Palm Beach Post those numbers were greatly inflated — which is allowed by NCAA regulations. The stadium seats 30,000.

“We should have built up the football program first and then rewarded their hard work with a stadium,” said FAU junior Monique Harvey.

Many (including ESPN) reported the stadium almost being filled to capacity at the Dec. 24 Boca Bowl. To those who attended the game, the numbers appear to be skewed. According to Boca Mag, three minutes into the game the stadium was half full.

Since the opening of the stadium on Oct.15, 2011, the FAU team has accumulated a 13-35 record and a 9-11 record at home. In the three years since the increase in the athletics fee, FAU football also had three different coaches.

This past year was the first full year under head coach Charlie Partridge. The team went 3-9 for the season and lost four games by a combined margin of eight points. Until the football program can string winning years together, the stadium and athletics fees will continue to be looked at by some as money misused.