The UC Irvine athletics department is being audited by the Student Fee Advisory Committee, which alleges that there has been ‘suspicious activity’ in the athletics department over this last year. Members of the Student Fee Advisory Committee are seeking documents and records about its finances to determine whether student fees are being used in a responsible manner.
Associated Students of UCI Vice President of Administrative Affairs Eric Williams said that whether or not any allegations of mismanagement are found by the Student Fee Advisory Committee, he believes that the audit is important for students.
‘The Committee feels that it is absolutely imperative that fees students pay are being used responsibly and productively,’ said Zach Avallone, the chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee. ‘These fees are self-imposed taxes that students have voted to levy on themselves in years past to pay for facilities like the Bren Events Center.’
In recent years, many of these student-funded activities have been consolidated into one administrative unit. The athletics department, the Bren Events Center and the Anteater Recreational Center are all supervised by Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation Bob Chichester, who reports directly to Chancellor Drake.
Each of the three major units of the athletic department units receives funding through student fees: $33 to athletics, $23 to the Bren and $80 to the ARC every quarter. In total, every student pays $144 per quarter or $432 per year to the departments consolidated under Chichester.
‘With this amount of money in one area I am very, very concerned about making sure the use of that money is accountable to the student body,’ Williams said.
The Athletics Office’s budgetary issues come on the heels of other problems uncovered earlier in the year concerning the Athletics Department’s use and supervision of the Bren Events Center. According to the Bren Center’s end-of-the-year report from 2005-2006, athletics uses the Bren Events Center almost 80 percent of the time but only contributes about 12 percent of the revenue for its use. This disparity has worried many student leaders on campus.
‘Throughout the year I’ve been concerned about the Bren Events Center finances, especially in relation to athletics,’ Williams said. ‘Hopefully, the report by the Student Fee Advisory Committee will shed light on many of the students’ concerns.’
The Student Fee Advisory Committee is composed of five undergraduate student representatives and is charged with advising Executive Vice Chancellor Michael Gottfredson about the distribution of student registration fees.
The Advisory Committee acquires budget reports from different administrative units supported by student fees in order to assess whether they continue to serve students’ best interests.
‘We’re so glad that our athletics teams, namely men’s volleyball, have been able to become national champions despite the concerns we have over the department’s management,’ said Kyle Holmes, a member of the Student Fee Advisory Committee and vice chair of the Bren Events Board.
The final report from the Student Fee Advisory Committee is expected to be released at the end of Spring Quarter.
The returning members of the Student Fee Advisory Committee plan to dedicate much of their time next year to assuring that student fees are being used appropriately