SAN MARCOS - Students at Texas State University-San Marcos have voted to increase the fees they pay to support Bobcat athletics in an effort to help the university move its football program to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS -- formerly Division I-A).
In a referendum held Feb. 12 and 13, Texas State students voted 4,738 (79.6 percent) to 1,214 (20.4 percent) to authorize the university to increase their athletics fee by $10 per semester credit hour in $2 per year increments over five years.
The university will carry the measure forward and ask that it be approved by The Texas State University System Board of Regents at its meeting Feb. 22 at Lamar University in Beaumont.
Increasing the student athletics fee is the first step in a process university officials say they hope will have the school ready to move to the FBS in four years. The NCAA recently established a four-year moratorium on moves within football subdivisions.
"I am very proud of our students for their support of this initiative," said Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. "It shows they are excited about the future of athletics at Texas State and in the continuing progress of the university. The Associated Student Government did an excellent job of promoting this measure and we are thankful for that organization's effort and their pride in the university."
The five-year increase in the student athletic fee will eventually double the fall 2008 fee of $10 per semester credit hour. By 2013, students will be paying more than $10 million a year to support athletics. Additional funding will come from other sources, said Trauth.
Reagan Pugh, president of Texas State's Associated Student Government, said, "While it might seem that we voted on an athletic fee increase, what we really did was make one more step in the direction of bettering our university as a whole. The students have voiced their belief in Texas State and I could not thank them enough for leading us down the path of making today's vision tomorrow's tradition."
Trauth said future success will require a team effort.
"Our students have done their part and shown their commitment," said Trauth. "But they can't do it alone. Their contribution will take us a long way, but we need others to get on board as well. Together, we can make this a very special time to be Bobcats."
Trauth said the university will work toward striking a balance with additional funding coming from ticket sales, marketing and sponsorships, community support, suite leases and capital gifts complementing student and institutional support.
She said the university recently received a $1 million contribution to Bobcat athletics, the largest gift ever in support of athletics at Texas State. That gift came from Texas State alumnus Darren Casey, a San Antonio businessman.
University officials say the current NCAA moratorium on moving within football subdivisions presents a unique opportunity to implement a comprehensive plan for the football transition.
"We want to be ready to step forward when the moratorium is lifted," said Larry Teis, Texas State director of athletics. "We know what needs to be done, and now it is time to take the next steps."
Benchmarks for a strategic plan have already been recommended by the Athletics Strategic Planning Committee, appointed by Trauth in May 2007. That committee made several specific recommendations regarding athletics at Texas State, including maintaining academic success, facilities improvements, competitive success in all programs, increased attendance at athletic events and the move to the NCAA FBS.
The Texas State President's Cabinet endorsed the committee's report in November, and it then received the approval of the Associated Student Government, which sponsored the student referendum. With approval by the students, an affirmative vote by the TSUS Regents will formally implement the process.