No, the locker money could not have paid your tuition

Elizabeth Braaten

Student athletes are constantly subjected to criticism on whether or not they deserve the scholarship money they receive. This frustration, while understandable if you are a debt-laden student struggling to pay off loans, is misdirected.

In August, UT’s football program revealed its flashy new locker room upgrade, with total costs estimated at around $8 million. Students instantly took to social media to criticize the football program, raising questions about why tuition costs are so high if money can just be thrown on expensive locker renovations for spoiled athletes. This criticism stems from a misconception of funding sources for UT’s sports programs.

UT’s athletic department is self-sufficient and receives no state funds. Money spent on athletes by UT athletics is generated by revenue that the program brings in each year from sources such as ticket sales and sponsorships. Simply put, the funds spent on those lockers, and any other facilities for student athletes, is completely independent from your tuition. 

Included in this funding are academic scholarships. UT’s athletics department pays for the scholarships of its athletes with the money it makes annually in revenue. Scholarships for athletes are completely independent of those received by students here purely for academic purposes.

Aside from not leeching resources away from non-athletes, UT’s athletic programs provide numerous benefits to both the campus community and the city of Austin as a whole.

Just last year, the athletic department poured $10 million in generated revenue back into the University’s academic programs.

Texas Athletics is also responsible for more than 7,000 jobs throughout Austin. Aside from creating jobs, the University’s athletic programs are good for the city’s economy, attracting nearly one million visitors to Austin during the 2013–2014 academic year alone. Financially, Texas Athletics contributed $728 million in total output across 316 business sectors. 

The success of winning athletics programs significantly contributes to the social atmosphere around campus. Athletic programs have been shown to boost enrollment, as they are often a core pillar of what students enjoy most about college life.

The success of a school’s athletics department can cultivate positive, long-term relations between a university and its alumni. There’s a reason Matthew McConaughey is always on campus and at football games. These people are essential to the University, as they often contribute their money and valuable time back to academic programs. 

The next time that you complain about the perks athletes get,  remember that their scholarships in no way affect the rising costs of your tuition. The presence of UT’s athletic programs has numerous positive effects on both campus life and Austin’s economy and are a large part of the positivity UT’s image enjoys both in the United States and around the world.

If you’re unhappy with high costs of tuition or a lack of student services, talk to the administrators of the school. Research the tuition increase just approved by the UT System Board of Regents. But whatever you do, leave student athletes out of it. 

Braaten is an international relations and global studies junior from Conroe. She is a senior columnist