HUNTSVILLE — At Sam Houston State University a proposal to charge all students $23 per credit hour to help fund the athletic department brought pushback.

Despite a massive surge of support on social media, the university’s student body voted down a referendum that called for a $3 per credit hour increase in student fees for Bearkat athletics — a department that operates on a near-$20 million annual budget.

The fee increase, which was included on the homecoming ballot, was expected to be used for revenue loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last 18 months has been hard on everyone and the financial impact on our department has been no different,” Sam Houston athletics director Bobby Williams said in a statement. The students have been the backbone of our success over the last decade, they are our largest season ticket base and our most loyal fans. They have done more than their share to help us move this department forward.

“We appreciate their willingness to put the referendum to a vote and fully respect the students’ decision. Our department will continue to explore all external opportunities in an attempt to provide a successful program and student experience.”

The majority of the Sam Houston athletics budget comes from student fees. The 21,679 student body currently contributes an athletic fee of $20 per credit hour, which generates over $13 million for athletics on an annual basis. 

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