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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 9, 2010

$50 low by WAC standards

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i-Mānoa full-time students would pay the fourth lowest tab in the nine-member Western Athletic Conference if the current proposal for a student athletic fee is approved.

The UH athletic department is seeking a $50 per semester fee to help underwrite the cost of its 19 programs.

If approved by the Board of Regents, UH's fee would rank sixth in the WAC and be less than half that charged by Idaho, Utah State and Boise State, which all assess their students in excess of $100 per semester, according to a UH study of peer institutions.

UH is currently the only school in the WAC and one of the few among major colleges that does not have some form of a student athletic fee.

Athletic director Jim Donovan has told the regents on several occasions that the lack of such revenue severely handicaps the department and makes it difficult for UH to balance its budget. The athletic department, which is projecting a $2 million deficit for the fiscal year that closes June 30, has run at a deficit for seven of the previous eight years. It has a net accumulated deficit of more than $8 million.

The implementation of a $50 per semester fee for all Mānoa students would generate approximately $2 million, UH said. Under the proposal, students would receive a designated number of free admissions to UH events, including 5,000 seats for football games at Aloha Stadium. Five percent of the money would also be directly targeted for a concert to kick off the school year, promotions and other items benefitting students.

Spokesman Gregg Takayama said Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw "intends to advance this proposal for approval" but it has yet to submit it and plans to "meet with students to seek their input" before proceeding.

Recent student governments have strongly opposed the imposition of a fee. It it is not known if the new slate of officers will accept the new proposal. Associated Students of UH president-elect Andrew Itsuno and others have not returned calls or emails seeking comment

The proposal is expected to go to the regents in July. If approved, the fee would not begin until Jan. 2011, UH said.

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