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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Athletics fee survives Student Senate cuts

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A number of different Kansas University entities had funding cuts on the table during a Student Senate fee-review session on Wednesday — but not Kansas Athletics.

Senators approved cuts to the fee that funds student activity groups, to a renewable energy and sustainability fund, and to Student Union Activities — which brought in speaker George Stephano-poulos this week — among many others.

But a $40 fee for women’s and nonrevenue sports was left untouched. Every dollar in student fees raises an estimated $50,000 in available funds.

Brian Hardouin, a law student senator who chaired a committee that examined fees, said his committee considered cutting enough of the athletics fee to cover other expenses, but was afraid it would be nixed by Chancellor Robert Hemenway, who has veto power over the Student Senate.

Senate is keeping the fees at the same overall level as last year to ease financial pressure on students, but has to fund needed improvements like a much-needed revamped sewer system at the Watkins Health Center, necessitating cuts, Hardouin said.

Hardouin said $15 of the athletics fee went to help construct a new boathouse, and $20 went to help keep the costs of student tickets low. As for the remaining $5 going to an organization that turns a profit, Har-douin said he thought there were a number of more efficient ways to spend the money to help students.

Hemenway wrote in an e-mail that he vetoed a cut to the athletics fee last year because he does not favor reducing funds that support Title IX. He said he would have to review any proposed cuts this year before making a decision.

Title IX is a federal law that addresses gender equity in athletics and other areas.

Kansas Athletics has made a number of improvements to address Title IX during the past 10 years, Hemenway said, including support services, medical and training services, practice and competitive facilities, travel budgets and tutoring.

Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony said the entire university should shoulder some of the responsibility for Title IX funding, in part because the university receives federal funds that would be taken away if KU were to be found not in compliance.

“I think that all parts of the university would want to ensure equal treatment of males and females,” he said.

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