FHSU to vote on athletics fee

HAYS — After a two-year debate, Fort Hays State University students will vote on whether to increase the athletic fee to pay for costs associated with sports other than football and basketball.

If approved in a vote Wednesday and Thursday, the fee would rise from the current $5.48 per credit hour to $7.48.

The money would be used for increased costs for baseball, men's and women's track, softball, women's tennis and men's and women's golf. About half of the university's athletes participate in those sports.

The athletic department said it needs the increase to offset cuts in state aid and increased participation in athletics.

Assistant athletic director Brad Haynes told students during a meeting Wednesday that the current fee is at least $2 less than other schools in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association schools.

Regardless of the vote's outcome, Haynes said the athletic fee will be used first for travel next year.

"We know we're going to have to travel to these locations during the 2010-11 season," he said. "Once we get those things budgeted, it's a matter of what we've got left for scholarships and everything else."

The fee issue has been a "battle" this year, said student body president Bradley Stramel.

The student government first rejected a resolution to put the fee to a vote. But a student petition drive sought to have students vote on it. A challenge to the petition failed.

In fall 2008, students voted down an athletic department request for a $1 increase to the athletic fee for 2009-10 and another $1 increase for 2010-11. The proposal failed by 21 votes, Stramel said.

Haynes said increasing the fee would make money for the athletic department by attracting more athletes with more and better scholarships.