A Letter from A.D. John Currie - October 8, 2015

Good evening K-State Nation!

Tonight’s letter is a special edition as we work in conjunction with our Student Governing Association to provide an update on the future of student privilege fees for K-State Athletics.

K-State Athletics and K-State's Student Governing Association have a long history of working together to advance and improve the Wildcat experience for all students and the community. For example, did you know that a movement led by K-State students was a major factor in getting state approval and support to build Ahearn Field House in the 1940s and 1950s? Additionally, I recently was reminded in an article by Larry Weigel that the SGA provided $1 million, over half of the original cost, for the initial construction of what we now call Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 1968. Later SGA helped drive the reconstruction of Nichols Hall, and moving on to the 1980s, student fees, along with private gifts, helped build Bramlage Coliseum, which 27 years later provides one of the best home court atmospheres in all of college basketball!

Many fans also may not realize that K-State's annual student fees are established and governed by the SGA's Privilege Fee committee and Student Senate. Indeed, K-State students have personally paid, through their fees, for many of the facilities that make K-State a great university, including funding the original Student Union (and its just commenced massive new renovation and upgrade) and Recreation Complex as well as vital services like the university counseling center, health services and other programs. Especially in this age of entitlement, it is inspiring to me to see the personal responsibility, thoughtfulness, generosity and foresight that our students put into helping accelerate Kansas State University toward the K-State 2025 goal of ranking among the nation's top 50 public research universities.

K-State SGA's tradition of financial support for intercollegiate athletics currently manifests itself in an annual allocation of $500,695, which we in turn use to defray a large portion of the $1.1 million in salaries that K-State Athletics pays to student workers (like graduate assistants, parking lot attendants, ushers, etc.,) each year. The Privilege Fee committee typically renews fee allocation contracts every three years, and we are now in the final year of this cycle.

As you may recall, when President Schulz and I arrived at K-State in June of 2009, approximately $2.6 million of our $44 million (6 percent) budget came from direct and indirect University funding (not counting the student fee allocation). Thanks to the generosity of our donors and fans, the growth of our Big 12 Conference revenues and careful fiscal management, we have been able to eliminate this funding source, enabling these dollars to be reinvested into critical academic needs across campus. This year, fiscal year 2016, we are the lone athletics program in the state of Kansas and one of only approximately 25 in the country to operate with no direct or indirect university funding or state support.

Our nationally-renowned students will continue to be a huge part of our ability to achieve the Vision of A Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program, and that's why we continue to allocate the prime seating sections both court- and field-side in Bramlage Coliseum and Bill Snyder Family Stadium. But, we believe, given other critical student needs across campus, the time has come for us to phase out the annual student fee allocation to intercollegiate athletics. In this spirit, earlier tonight the SGA Privilege Fee committee proposed legislation to the Student Senate which, if passed, will reduce allocations to Athletics to $450,000 in fees in FY17 followed by $350,000 in FY18 and $200,000 for in FY19 with the anticipation that these allocations will then cease.

This is a historic step forward for K-State and one that would have never been possible had it not been for the strategic financial investments of our students at important moments in K-State's intercollegiate history. Even after the phase-out of the fee, students will continue to have the opportunity to directly financially invest in K-State Athletics through their annual purchase of student football and men's basketball passes.

And, the very most important aspect of our special student/K-State Athletics relationship always continues to be the packed and boisterous student sections, front and center, driving the atmosphere of Bramlage and BSFS and portraying to those national TV audiences what the #KStateFamily is all about!

Our great partnership and collaboration with students will continue, and I would like to personally thank SGA President Andy Hurtig, Vice President Joe Tinker, SGA Athletics Liaison Katie Gehrt, and Student Privilege Fee Chair Garrett Kays for their tremendous leadership and teamwork throughout this process.

Go Cats!

John