Long Beach State athletics are working to increase the mandatory Instructionally Related Activities Fee by $64 starting fall 2023.
The fee adjustment, which is part of their Sustain Beach Athletics initiative, will make all students pay $89 per semester for this fee, a 256% increase compared to the $25 fee students currently pay.
This increase comes from the current deficit that the athletics department been facing.
“The underlying problem that we have is we have about $20 million worth of very fixed long term expenditure commitments,” Interim Athletics Director Ted Kadowaki said. “Those are for personnel costs, salaries and benefits and scholarships to student athletes.”
Because athletics is only getting $16 million each academic year, $12 million from the university and $4 million from current fees, Kadowaki said that adjusting the activities fee was the only viable and dependable solution found.
“We need this, if this fee increase goes through it generates just over $4 million and that’s kind of that delta between fixed expenditures and fixed revenue,” Kadowaki said.
Other revenue, such as ticket sales, corporate sponsorship, fundraising and concession sales are not a stable means to take care of this deficit, as they can be high one day and then low the next.
Kadowaki wants to focus on the athletics budget and fee revenue for long term costs to help run the department and sports teams, while those alternative revenues can be saved and used if needed for changes in the department.
“I don’t want to just say emergencies, but we have facility repairs that need to be made,” Kadowaki said. “The problem with the roof of the pyramid. The roof leaks when it rains hard.”
But in order for a fee to be adjusted, it must follow through student fee policies.
Since the Instructionally Related Activities Fee is a mandatory fee for students to pay in order to attend Long Beach State, it must face a consultation process.
According to the consultation information page on the Long Beach State website, if the president of a university feels a referendum, a vote from all individuals, is not the best way to consult and get information, alternative consultation processes can be looked into.
In this case, the alternative consultation for athletics is a survey for students, community members and alumni to fill out. Some questions the survey asks are how important athletics are to each individual, how it affects their learning and if it brings value to someone’s degree at CSULB.
“Not just those kinds of questions, but what else can athletics do in your mind to help those areas?” Kadowaki said. “What would you like to see more of from the athletic department?”
The survey was released on Jan. 19, with an official press release being announced on the Long Beach Athletics website on Jan. 30.
Kadowaki plans to keep this survey open throughout the remainder of February and will deliver the results to the Student Fee Advisory Committee. Members of this committee include both students and faculty from the university.
Beth Lesen, vice president of student affairs at CSULB and a member of the fee advisory committee, says that during their meeting last Friday, Kadowaki hopes to have at least 10,000 student surveys filled before their next meeting on March 10.
Once presented with the survey results, all members of the committee will take an unofficial vote on whether the fee should be adjusted or not.
Their decision will only be a recommendation to Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley, as she makes the final decision to approve or deny the adjustment.
If approved, a fee increase is not the only change to occur for students.
The athletics department plans to give incentives to both students and student organizations. These include continued free home game admission and increased use of the Walter Pyramid for student groups like Associated Students Inc.
The department also plans to increase work opportunities for students, both in employment and paid and unpaid internships.
“We do want to provide more internship opportunities for students that are interested in sports medicine, broadcasting, ticketing, marketing, we have a lot of areas that I think are attractive to students depending on what degree program they’re in,” Kadowaki said.
There would even be plans for athletics to have a closer relationship with both intramural and club sports on campus.
As for how that will happen, Kadowaki says he doesn’t know, but he would want to make it a win-win situation for all parties.
“You’re giving us something, we’re going to give you something, we’re going to make it work,” Kadowaki said.
Proposals on fee increases are common, as Lesen says that most semesters have at least one proposal presented to the committee and believes that students need to be know about these changes.
“I want students to be as aware as possible of the process and what the content of this conversation is, like, what’s being presented,” Lesen said.
With the search for the new athletics director to begin this semester, Kadowaki hopes that if the fee adjustment passes, it will give the new director peace of mind when it comes to budgeting.
“We want to be able to recruit somebody by saying, ‘we’ve got, you know, budget issues like all athletic departments, but we’re balanced, we have enough fixed income to pay for our fixed costs,'” Kadowaki said.
As for Kadowaki himself, he says his experience so far into this term has been eye opening and that no two days have been the same. When the time comes for him to pass the torch to the new director, he believes that they will be in good hands.
“It’ll be bittersweet when the time comes. I’m not sure I realized how much I was going to be absorbed into this role,” Kadowaki said. “I think I fooled myself.”