The business of being a Cornell student-spectator will now come with a price tag, as the Athletics Department has announced that events that were previously free for the student body for 11 sports teams will now charge a nominal price of admission.
This announcement has been expected since the Student Assembly denied the Athletics Department byline funding after the administration missed several application deadlines. The price of admission to selected sporting events will be 3 dollars for undergraduates, with an option of buying a “Big Red Sports Pass” at the price of 40 dollars that will grant the holder access to all Cornell sporting events charging admission for undergraduates, except men’s hockey, for the 2006-07 academic year. Events whose proceeds go to organizations other than Cornell will still charge pass holders, including NCAA tournament games.
The 11 teams that will charge admission are football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s hockey, wrestling, indoor track and field, and men’s and women’s lacrosse. Men’s hockey will continue to charge a higher price of admission. Over half of Cornell’s 36 varsity teams will continue to admit students to competitive events for free.
“There will be a small increase in ticket prices across the board,” said Cornell Athletics Director Andy Noel. “In fact, we had planned on that because [they have] been at the same price level for several years.”
According to Noel, the 40-dollar pass will allow its owner to attend roughly 300 dollars worth of sporting events. The physical appearance of the pass has yet to be determined, although a sticker that would be affixed to a Cornell student ID or a pass on a lanyard have been considered.
“We want it to be easy for students,” Noel said.
The change in ticket policy is a combination of tight financial times within the Athletics Department and the loss of byline funding because the department failed to file an application by the deadline.
Byline funding is allocated to Cornell organizations with funds provided by the Student Activities Fee that every undergraduate pays.
The original agreement between the S.A. and the Athletics Department in the 1990s allocated 12 dollars from each student’s fee to be given to Athletics to defray the cost of admission. The 2004-06 budget set aside $7.50 from each fee for Athletics, for a total amount of over $100,000.
Frank Araneo, associate athletics director/business and finance, explained earlier this year that his department missed the April 2005 deadline because it was unaware of the change from the traditional September deadline.
“This is bigger than school spirit — this is people’s paychecks, people’s financial aid,” Tim Lim ’06, former Student Assembly president, said in February. “We need to know where the money is going.”
The Athletics Department does not share the details of its budget with the public, but it would disclose that the monetary value of free admissions previously given to students was in excess of $200,000.
“We [gave] up revenue to do this because we care about the students,” Noel said in February. “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.”
On Feb. 22, Araneo attended an S.A. meeting in which the S.A. voted to reopen a dialogue concerning byline funding with the Athletics Department by a vote of 15-6, just over the two-thirds majority required. This was a final attempt between the two parties to find a resolution to the Athletics Department’s application, which was not submitted until October 2005 and which the S.A. maintained contained insufficient information. However, because the S.A. had already passed its budget and received final approval from the University’s Board of Trustees, there was no way to secure more money to give to the Athletics Department.