Editorial: The Price of Admission

How many times have you heard the following statement in reference to attending athletic events at Baylor?

You might as well go; you’ve already paid for it.

It’s become common knowledge that Baylor students needn’t purchase season tickets or sports passes for athletic events. With a swipe of their ID cards at the gate, students receive a ticket to whatever event they’re attending, no questions asked.

There’s even a page on Baylor’s website that reads, “tickets for Baylor students are provided free to all Baylor undergraduate students.”

They’re not free, though. Students who pay the general student fee, which was $1,469 for the fall of 2011 for both undergraduate and graduate students, receive one student ticket to all athletic events.

In an email to the Lariat, Baylor director of media communications Lori Fogleman said the general student fee helps provide the funding for numerous student services, activities and events. One of those activities specifically included is athletic events.

While paying a fee to support the upkeep of the university and its facilities is understandable, the way athletic tickets are paid for should be revamped to better serve ardent sports fans, casual fans and Baylor students as a whole.

Before finding an alternative to athletic ticket distribution, the university should make certain information accessible to students. Namely, students should be able to know what exactly the general student fee covers. The most specific listing, per Baylor’s website, includes, “building upkeep, library and trolley usage, access to the Student Life Center (SLC) and technology around campus.”

In the very least, students and their parents should see a breakdown of categories and the amount of their general student fee that goes to each category. It might be impractical to list every on-campus event, but revealing how much of that $1,469 goes toward buildings, SLC access, technology and athletic tickets does not seem too much to ask for.

Once that is settled, the university should drop the amount currently allocated to athletic tickets. This is not to say it should just give tickets away for free, but students should have the option to buy them as opposed to being forced to.

Baylor’s law school provides a viable model. Law students, because they are not expected to have as much time for leisure activities, have a lower general student fee ($591 per quarter, or $1,182 per semester) and can buy athletic tickets separately. For $121 per quarter, law students can purchase tickets to all athletic events in that quarter. An easy calculation brings that to $363 for three quarters, as there are no Baylor athletic events in the summer quarter aside from a handful of late-season baseball games.

Something like this would translate well to many undergraduate and graduate Baylor students. The university has plenty of hardcore sports fans who enjoy attending the majority of all athletic events. A cost of $300 isn’t a bad deal, considering season tickets for football and men’s and women’s basketball alone combine for more than that ($160 for football, $140 for men’s basketball and $125 for women’s basketball totaling $425.) But there are plenty more who only attend a handful of events each year. For these students, paying more than $300 per year for a few events is a waste of money.

If buying athletic tickets were optional, Baylor could offer pricing incentives to increase attendance at high-profile games like football’s matchup with TCU. More casual fans could purchase mini-plans to get their fill of sports without dropping hundreds of dollars for games they won’t attend.

Baylor could also look at how other Texas schools dispense their student tickets. Texas schools that have football teams at the Division I-A level (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, University of Houston, Rice, SMU, Texas-El Paso and North Texas,) have chosen different methods of ticket selling or distribution.

Texas A&M and Texas sell sports passes.

Texas A&M has three options: $325 for all sports including football, $200 for football only and $175 for all sports except football. Texas sells its Longhorn All Sports Pass for $80, and for $70 more, students can buy reserved seating at football games to eliminate the risk of not securing a seat before all student tickets are pulled.

Houston, Rice and Texas-El Paso do not charge students for athletic tickets or list a mandated fee to cover the cost of those tickets. SMU has a similar policy for full time students, but students taking less than 12 semester hours must pay an $85 fee for football ticket access.

If there are any schools whose models Baylor shouldn’t follow, it’s Texas Tech and North Texas. Like Baylor, Texas Tech describes its student tickets as having no cost. The website reads in bold and all capital letters, “Just swipe your ID and get in free!” In a subsequent paragraph, though, it mentions that students paid an automatic student athletic fee of $52 for the fall of 2011.

At North Texas, students are required to pay an intercollegiate athletics fee of $10 per semester hour, used to “cover the cost of UNT athletics programs.” Yet North Texas’ athletics website says, “North Texas students receive free admission to all home football contests.” Students might not be charged at the gate, but they have all paid to support the team whether they want to or not.

Just as they would at Baylor, those not highly interested in sports at Texas Tech or North Texas will essentially lose money to a cause they don’t really support.

Essentially, Baylor needs to be more straightforward with exactly how much students are paying for their tickets.

If Baylor wants to charge admission for the high-caliber teams it continues to put on the field/court, that is understandable.

It doesn’t matter how Baylor chooses to change the policy; the important thing is that student tickets stop being an automatically included cost.

Remove athletic ticket costs from the general student fee. Then either give tickets away for free or charge for them but give students the option, not requirement, to buy them.

Infobox and photo illustration by Chris Derrett | Editor in Chief