11/22/2010 02:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Most of Hawkins buy-out to come from CU athletic department, not tuition

By Ellie Bean

In the wake of Dan Hawkins' recent firing and a reported $2 million being spent to buy out his contract, many CU students are wondering, how much does the athletic department cost students?

All CU students pay an athletic fee of $28.50 per semester which "supports quality intercollegiate athletics programs and reduces student ticket prices," according to the bursar's website. The only students exempted from paying this fee are students enrolled in three or less credit hours.

Some students, such as Chelsea Meyer, a 19-year-old sophomore business management major, said that they feel the athletic fee is too much.

"I wouldn't mind supporting the athletic department, but $57 is a little much to be paying [every year]," said Meyer, who didn't know about the fee. "I already buy season tickets for both the basketball and football team."

According to the CU website, in 2007 CU had 29,709 degree-seeking students; if they all paid the athletic fee, CU would have generated almost $1.7 million that year.

CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn said that these fees, which were mandated by the regents in 1980 and were not voted upon by students, are common among universities.

"It is common for institutions to have an athletic fee in place," Bohn said. "It helps offset the cost of ticket prices for students."

At CSU, only full-time students pay the athletic fee, but it is $103.85 per semester.

Bohn said that the athletic department provides a crucial element of campus life.

"It provides a sense of pride and a rallying point for our community," Bohn said. "It also provides entertainment, that sense of pride, it really fuels all of the key initiatives of the university. It enhances the residential campus experience."

Amy Faliano, a 21-year-old senior MCD biology major, said that she doesn't mind paying to support athletics at CU.

"Athletics was one of my draws to come to a big university like CU, so I don't mind paying a fee to support them and help our school stay well-rounded," Faliano said. "I understand the amount of work that goes into recruiting athletes and how important that is to our success."

Bohn said that although the student fees may seem like a lot of money for the athletic department, no tuition money goes toward athletics and that the department is mostly self-sufficient.

"We are an auxiliary," Bohn said. "We generate our revenue from ticket sales, donations, TV deals. None of it comes from tuition."

Bohn also said that the fee does not increase and that the last time the fee was adjusted, the amount that students pay actually went down. The student fee does not go to one specific aspect of the athletic department, he said, but rather supports it all.

"It goes to support the entire enterprise," he said. "It's used for facility upkeep, funds our operational expenses associated with travel. It helps us meet all of our costs: equipment, training, upkeep ... that are all essential for our program."

Morgan Healy, a 22-year-old senior anthropology major, said she hadn't heard of the fee, but doesn't mind paying it.

"I suppose I feel OK with that as long as part of my tuition money also goes to other things like the art department," Healy said.

Ryan Stock, a 21-year-old senior political science major, said that he knew of the fee but didn't know the specific amount.

"I knew a portion of my money was going to the athletic department," Stock said. "I'm pretty much fine with it. It's part of the experience of the university is going to the sporting events and supporting the student athletes is an important thing 'cause it brings so much money into the school."

Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Ellie Bean at