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NDSU athletic department wants more student funding through activity fees

FARGO - The North Dakota State athletic department is proposing a hike to the student activity fee to help with the increased cost of doing business in Division I.Todd Phelps, the deputy director of athletics, said the plan is to phase in a $100 ...

North Dakota State University students walk on campus on Oct. 7, 2015. Dave Wallis / The Forum
North Dakota State University students walk on campus on Oct. 7, 2015. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO – The North Dakota State athletic department is proposing a hike to the student activity fee to help with the increased cost of doing business in Division I.

Todd Phelps, the deputy director of athletics, said the plan is to phase in a $100 increase over three years in increments of $40, $30 and $30, which would mainly fund travel, equipment and supplies for student-athletes. At almost $200 per year from each student, it would bring the total from students from the current $1.4 million to approximately $2.9 million.

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“The cost of business has gone up,” Phelps said. “We’re not looking for student fees to shoulder the brunt of all of our expenses. Just continue to support in those areas to get us up to par with other peer institutions in the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference.”
NDSU released figures that show the hike would mean student fees would cover 14 percent of the total operating budget, or the same as the University of North Dakota. Northern Iowa is the next lowest at 15 percent. Meanwhile, student fees at Indiana State generate $8.3 million, or 61 percent of its operating budget.
NDSU’s total athletic budget for this year is $20.1 million.
In return for the proposed hike, Phelps said the athletic department is proposing two give-back type of opportunities to students: increased availability of its facilities like the indoor bubble, and the availability of Team Makers priority points to students when they graduate.
NDSU charges groups outside of campus $250 per hour for the use of its bubble, but would make it available to student groups free of charge on a limited basis.
Broken down, the increase would go from $4.70 per credit to $6.37 per credit. The athletic department has budgeted $3.04 million for travel and $583,000 for equipment and supplies this year for a total of $3.62 million. That figure is estimated to jump to $3.95 million by 2019.
The fee increase would have to be approved by the NDSU Student Finance Advisory Board and require the approval of President Dean Bresciani. If it doesn’t go through, Phelps said the athletic department would have to take a “hard look” at cutting team travel and schedules.
“It could be more of a burden. Maybe it would require to leave earlier or come back later,” he said of road trips. “Then you’re talking student-athlete welfare issues like missed class time.” It could also put a strain on the athletic department’s fundraising avenues like corporate sponsorships, he said.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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The Black Hawks trailed by two goals with just over six minutes left to play but rallied and upended Fargo in overtime on Saturday.