Grambling students approve athletics fee

GRAMBLING (AP) — Grambling State University’s athletic programs will get a boost in the fall after students approved an athletics fee that will generate an additional $1 million annually.

After students voted against the athletics fee last year, university officials launched an awareness campaign to show the need for another mandatory fee.

The fee will become effective in the fall. Each student will be assessed $100 per semester.

President Frank Pogue said the approval by the students will not only benefit the athletics programs but the entire university because years of underfunding have required the university to supplement the athletic programs.

Last season Grambling football players boycotted practices and the Oct. 19 Jackson State University game over poor facilities and equipment and ongoing financial issues within the athletic department.

Grambling’s state funding has been cut by almost 60 percent over the past several years from $31.6 million to $13.8 million. The overall budget is $49 million.

The athletics budget was cut by $335,000 to $6.8 million in 2013. The athletic department has faced a $1 million to $2 million deficit over the past several years.

To prop up the department’s shortfall, GSU has shifted money from other revenue sources, which is why Pogue said the athletics fee would benefit the entire university, not just the athletic department.

“Everyone needs to understand that the athletics fee is not simply to support athletics. It is to support the entire university. The university has no state or auxiliary funds to transfer to athletics. Therefore, the passage of the fee is a serious effort to support everything we do. I wish to congratulate students, (Grambling athletics director) Aaron James and all our coaches for their efforts,” Pogue said.

Grambling was the only school in Louisiana without an athletics fee, James said. He called the approval of the fee a team effort and thanked the students for their vote.

Money generated from the athletic fee can be used for non-revenue sports, scholarships, travel expenses and maintenance of athletic facilities.