Peter Blake, head of the State Council for Higher Education, said athletics serves as an advertisement for colleges, which benefits students. In addition, the fees cover the payment of facilities, scholarships and debts. If tuition fees were made optional, colleges would have fewer facilities and scholarships to offer.
Elizabeth Hooper, director of state relations at Virginia Tech, said that if students are allowed to choose the programs they support, they are jeopardizing the economic health of more than just a soccer team. A recent study found that Virginia Tech brings $ 69 million in economic impact to Southwest Virginia through hotels, restaurants, taxes, and other means. Most of that money, she said, is generated by the football team.
At Virginia Commonwealth University, the school’s $ 910 track and field fee is over 50% of track and field’s operating budget, said Ashley Hood, the school’s director of government relations. Making the fees optional would have dire consequences, she said. VCU currently allows 25 students to attend every men’s basketball home game.
Virginia has some of the most expensive athletic fees in the country, with VMI at No.1, James Madison University at No.3, and six Virginia colleges in the top seven, according to a 2020 report from NBC News. based on 2017-18 school year. Radford derives 81% of its athletics department’s revenue from tuition fees, the second highest total nationally.