For the past decade, it has been a Cornell tradition that all students are granted free admission to varsity athletic events excluding men’s hockey games and playoff contests. However, starting Fall 2006, this policy is set to change. The Athletics Department will be charging a nominal fee for entrance to select sporting events for undergraduates in order to recoup lost Student Assembly (S.A.) funding. The Athletics Department has been denied byline funding by the S.A. after missing the proposal deadline.
“We [gave] up revenue to do this because we care about the students,” said Cornell Athletics Director Andy Noel. “It comes out of a need to basically balance our budget and keep providing quality programs that keep us up to speed with our opponents.”
Every two years, the S.A. goes through the process of allocating the Student Activities Fee in the form of byline funding to campus organizations. Although it is against the rules of the S.A. to fund University departments, according to president Tim Lim ’06, it has traditionally been done in order to foster school spirit at athletic events and help reduce the cost of men’s hockey tickets.
“We do support athletics and what they do, and that’s why we’ve been supporting them for all these years,” Lim said.
The new policy of charging for admission – a fee the Athletics Department estimates will be no higher than five dollars per event – is a result of Athletics missing the original proposal deadline.
Frank Araneo, the associate director of athletics/business and finance, was responsible for submitting the paperwork. Due to the fact that he went from full-time to part-time status last spring, he missed the original emails from the S.A. concerning the issue. Further, the deadline for applying for byline funding had traditionally been in September, but was moved up to April during this period.
Lim and other members of the S.A. said that Athletics was one of only four groups to miss the deadline. Two of those groups submitted budget proposals over the summer, and only Athletics and Club Insurance were still without proposals in September. At that time, Noel said that the Office of the Assemblies told the Athletics Department that it could fill out a single form to apply to both the S.A. and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA). While the GPSA has approved funding, the S.A. has denied it. Consequently, graduate students will not be able to attend athletic events free of charge in the upcoming year, while undergraduates will have to pay a fee. “The crux of the effort to recoup revenue would have to come from undergraduates,” Araneo said. “There’s nothing definitive, but philosophically, it would make sense.”
Emails were exchanged between the S.A. and Araneo, with a proposal finally submitted on Oct. 5, 2005, according to Lim. Because the byline funding process was already underway at this point, the S.A. rejected the Athetlics Department proposal.
“The budget was also reproduction, the only change was the date,” Lim said. “We took it as a lack of respect, a lack of efforts from Athletics.