LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville’s student athletic fee, long a target of the school’s Student Government Association, especially with the increased revenue now coming to athletics via conference realignment, is being reduced for the next academic year.

The SGA announced Monday that the fee will be cut from $50 to $25 per student per semester for the coming academic year. The move comes at the recommendation of the university's task force on tuition and fees. University spokesman John Karman told the U of L student newspaper, The Cardinal, that nothing is finalized but that the reduction is expected to pass.

The fee has been in place since 2002, when then-president John Shumaker proposed a $125-per semester student fee that later was reduced to $50 per semester after pressure from student government and faculty. The fee was voted as a temporary measure to help shore up athletics, which was running deficits after the construction of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the rapid expansion of women’s sports. Over the next four years, it increased to $50 per semester, and in 2007, the fee was renewed with no expiration date.

The year the fee was passed, Louisville's athletic revenue was $31.2 million. In fiscal year 2017, according to a financial summary submitted to the NCAA, the department's revenue was $120.4 million, a 286 percent increase. While money coming into the athletics department has skyrocketed, so has the tuition demands on students, which have seen in-state tuition increase from $3,954 per semester in 2001-02 to an expected $11,264 in the next academic year, an increase of nearly 185 percent.

In a letter to students, U of L SGA president Vishnu Tirumala and executive vice president, Sarah Love said Monday that the reduction came after, “extensive behind-the-scenes work.”

“Over the past 16 years, the Student Government Association has been skeptical of the fee’s usage,” the letter reads. “We have opposed it in public and in private.”

The SGA said that the fee reduction would return a little over $1 million to students for the upcoming year. The student leadership thanked interim athletics director Vince Tyra and associate AD Matt Banker for their assistance.

Student fees are passing out of vogue at many “Power 5” conference universities as revenues from cable TV network deals escalate. Every school in the Southeastern Conference, including the University of Kentucky, that still collects an athletic fee returns the entire amount paid to the general fund. But student fees aren’t going away everywhere. Florida State and North Carolina are among Atlantic Coast Conference schools still collecting student money, as is the University of Virginia, which collects the largest athletic fee in the league.

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