University of Washington administrators say they’re working to eliminate a tuition waiver that has the effect of giving $3 million in tuition revenues to the university’s athletic department, even though the department makes a profit on ticket sales and broadcast contracts.
Under state law, each of the state’s four-year schools helps cover tuition costs for female student-athletes out of net tuition collections, essentially meaning other students who pay tuition are subsidizing their educations.
The practice dates to 1989, when the Legislature authorized Washington’s four-year public colleges to waive up to 1 percent of overall tuition revenue as a way to fund “gender-equity” scholarships, with the idea of boosting women’s sports. Last year, the waiver meant $3.3 million in subsidies went to UW athletics, even though the department made an overall profit of $8.9 million.
UW Athletics Director Scott Woodward has advocated for continued use of the subsidy, saying athletic budgets are volatile. He has noted that the subsidy has been successful in helping the UW to create women’s athletics programs and services.
Because the money comes from student tuition dollars, the UW’s student government passed a resolution earlier this year opposing the practice.
On Thursday, when the UW Board of Regents voted to approve a 2014-15 operating budget, student government president Michael Kutz objected because the tuition subsidy was still in the budget. But officials said they were working with the athletic department on an agreement that would eliminate the subsidy.
Two regents — Kristianne Blake and student regent Kiana Scott — said they agreed with, and supported, the student government position, and were voting in favor of the budget only because the UW has said it is working to eliminate the subsidy.