By Amanda Britt and Mikayla Nowell / NM News Port
As part of our Curious UNM project, our reporters are seeking questions from the UNM community about the university. These questions can look at any aspect of life on campus, from historical moments to current events. This story by Amanda Britt and Mikayla Nowell looks at a question from a student: “How much of my money goes to the UNM athletics department?”
Each year, the UNM Student Fee Review Board, made up of undergraduate and graduate students, meets to decide how to allocate roughly $12 million in student activity fees to organizations, non-academic departments, and resource centers on campus. The athletics department requests approximately $4 million every year.
Emma Hotz, ASUNM President Pro Tempore said, “This is a pretty high number, when there is a small percentage of students that are student athletes.”
As of 2019, nearly $3.7 million goes to UNM athletics, which is roughly 10% of student fees, according to the Bursar’s Office record of tuition and fee rates. This percentage has gone down by 2.42% since 2015.
Before the budget is sent to the Board of Regents for approval, the Student Fee Review Board creates a recommendation for the Budget Leadership Team.
“This year, we had to request an increase in student fees to avoid cutting student jobs and programs at each resource center. Budgets were still cut a significant amount,” Hotz said.
It’s no surprise that with enrollment being as low as it is, every organization and department on campus is hurting in terms of funding.
“The university needs to be more strict about what they fund for athletics, as well as find other ways to fund them than student fees,” Hotz said. “There needs to be more creative ways to increase funding for athletics that does not take money away from the students.”
The amount of money the athletics department gets from student fees may seem like a lot, but is comparatively pretty low, according to Ryan Berryman, associate athletics director. Berryman said of the 12 schools in the Mountain West District, UNM ranks eighth or ninth in terms of funding from student fees.
Compared to other groups on campus like student government whose budget is over $186,000 and career services whose budget is roughly $30,000, the athletics department receives $3,681,708 or 10% of the Student Activity Fee’s budget. The largest percent of student fees (54%) goes to debit services, while the smallest amount goes towards theatre and dance.
Berryman said this is all relative and that because athletics is such a large department, the funding they receive makes sense.
“We have 400 student athletes that we support and that number compared to our peers is low,” he said. “We’re supporting a lot of different athletes from multiple sports teams.”
Berryman said the department pulls the fees centrally and equally distributes them throughout the department.
“We try to focus on using those funds for student-related expenses so anytime we support a student athlete with travel, meals or graduate assistantship, that’s usually where the money gets directed to,” Berryman said.
Since students pay fees that fund the athletics department, they get free admission to games.
“That’s a revenue source for us so we don’t want to double tax students in that regard,” Berryman said.
Amanda Britt is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. She can be reached on Twitter @AmandaBritt__ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mikayla Nowell is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. She can be reached on Twitter @mikaylanowell or at email@example.com.