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Athletes, not students, are the university’s pride and joy

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The Appalachian Online

Most of us are familiar with the idea that our budgets are our values. If this is true, then I regret to say our beloved university does not value its students, at least financially.

According to a report by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, from 2005 to 2011, academic spending per student at Appalachian State University rose 1 percent, while athletic spending per athlete rose 59 percent.

This translates to $11,768 to $11,925 and $21,043 to $33,451 per student, respectively.

The university’s mission states, “Appalachian is committed to excellence in its undergraduate and graduate educational programs,” but the school has continuously focused its funding on athletics

From 2001 to 2014 we have seen a cumulative 119.5 percent increase in student athletic fees, according to Appalachian’s fact book.

The highest fee we currently pay per semester is the athletic fee, which is $350 for full-time students, according to the tuition and fees website.

Why has Appalachian put so much money into athletics? The logic makes perfect sense: having successful athletics appears to be a good investment for the school, bringing in more students and funding. But, this logic is flawed.

According to a report by the AlumniFactor, an independent company that ranks schools based on alumni, the top two reasons for alumni funding were the colleges’ ability to provide intellectual development and allow for the development of deep friendships. The way Appalachian budgets and raises its money is not conducive to providing this intellectual development.

Digging deeper beyond the burden of athletic fees into the university’s fundraising strategies, we would find a bias toward student athletes.

Campaign for Appalachian, the university’s main source of fundraising, sets goals and initiatives for each area within the university: arts, athletics and academics. Within these areas are individual scholarship goals.

Athletics’ scholarship goal is $25 million. The total scholarship goal for the eight schools within the university, however, is only $40.8 million

According to Appalachian’s Athletic Feasibility Report, there are approximately 550 student athletes. Divided by the number of student athletes, there is approximately $45,500 available to every student athlete.

But, if we took the number of undergraduate non-athletes, 15,084, divided by the total academic scholarship money, approximately $2,700 would be available for every student.

Let’s take these numbers a step further.

Tuition for a full-time undergraduate student is roughly $3,400 per semester, according to Appalachian’s website. If the scholarships the university is providing for athletes are purely for tuition, then based on calculations, it should only cost $27,200 to finance an athlete’s tuition for four years.

This leaves athletes with more than enough money to go to school for free, while non-athlete students are scraping by with inadequate scholarships.

We have to ask ourselves what we, as Mountaineers, want to be known for: an athletic powerhouse or an institution that prioritizes its students’ intellectual development?

At this university, we must reflect on our mission statement, because at this point all I read is, “Appalachian State is committed to excellence in its athletic programs at the expense of its students’ education.”

Heidenreich, a senior political science major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.

View Comments (11)
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Comments (11)

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  • A

    ADDec 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    What things? The athletics program bring in more money for the athletics program. Only the very very top ranked teams make money back for their schools. ASU is basically making bets with our tuition that the football team will ever be good enough to make us money.

    Reply
  • S

    SlexDec 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Tyler, I’m curious exactly what the football department has offered to the crumbling and dilapidated art department, among other buildings. I guess the football team warranted a parking lot near my building. But the school rents them to alumni jocks to relive their drunken past during game day and to those who can afford a several hundred dollar pass per semester. But hey if it weren’t for the football department, I would only have half as much to gripe about this terrible university. Also, I’ve never been to a game so I may be completely wrong but isn’t the football department an utter failure? Fortunately, the more money they pour into their football department, the better their student athletes get. Right?

    Reply
  • J

    JoeDec 4, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Of course our success in football has been positive for the school in terms of alumni donation. But, do we let that become our reputation? It’s an institution of education. If athletes are just as much students as the rest of us, then why should they receive such a large preference?

    Reply
  • A

    A.D.Dec 4, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Tyler, that simply is not true. The money that is raised by athletics goes back into the athletics program. We are one of the only countries in the world that offers athletic scholarships… Is it coincidence that we’re following far behind other developed nations in education?

    Reply
  • R

    RobDec 4, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    “Tuition for a full-time undergraduate student is roughly $3,400 per semester, according to Appalachian’s website. If the scholarships the university is providing for athletes are purely for tuition, then based on calculations, it should only cost $27,200 to finance an athlete’s tuition for four years.”

    Often times a majority of student athletes are out of state students and thus have a different tuition and fees schedule to follow.

    Reply
  • T

    TylerDec 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    If it wasn’t for our athletics program, more specifically, a successful football program…you wouldn’t have half of the things available to you at this school. The athletes are also just as much of a student as you are.

    Reply
    • A

      AmyDec 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Tyler, an excellent point, but how do you justify the success of UNC Wilmington students? I’d say they have a lot of the same things available to them without that successful football team to support.
      Regardless of whether athletics provides more “things” to the general student body or not, the fact is they are still students. So why are these 550 being given such preference over the other 15,000? Look at the number and value of academic merit scholarships we give out each year in comparison to the number and value of athletic scholarships. We are highly subsidizing the education of a select few because of athletic endeavor while some of the most academically gifted students at this University are graduating in impossible amounts of debt. And while the average starting salary of a college graduate has risen to $45,000, Armanti Edwards was awarded a $700,000 signing bonus when he was contracted by the Panthers in 2010. So who is better positioned to pay back college debt, the exceptional student or the exceptional athlete?

      Reply
    • D

      DavidDec 5, 2014 at 10:50 am

      You’re right. Student athletes are just as much students as we are. So why do they get such a disproportionate amount of money?

      Reply
    • K

      KevinDec 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      You want to actually back up that statement with some numbers? How about some sources? Please, do show how athletics provide “half of the things available to us.”

      Also, the author is not criticizing the student-athletes, but rather the University’s priorities…

      Reply
    • M

      MarkDec 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Just as much? Seems to me like the University views them as more of a student. Or at least more important.

      Reply
    • T

      TylerDec 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Fellow Tyler, I agree with you. The value of all of our degrees went up when the volume of applications increased, specifically after the Michigan win in 2007. The institution is able to be more selective in their enrollment with a bevy of prospective students desiring admission. Greater selectivity equates to a higher quality of students academically. This seems to be reinforced by the continual rise in average GPA and SAT scores for respective, incoming classes.

      Additionally, the opinion article seems to imply a sense of entitlement for all attendees of Appalachian. I can’t imagine a world in which every student is deserving of a $2,700 scholarship. It may seem elitist but scholarships are earned via merit or academics. It seems to me like selectivity and competition for limited funds increases the standards by which the university may operate.

      Reply