UTRGV proposing new fee to fund school spirit initiatives, sports teams

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) could soon implement policies that aim to expand and establish programs at the institution relating to the increase of school spirit.

UTRGV’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Division of Strategic Enrollment and Student Affairs proposed a referendum to the Student Government Association (SGA) on Tuesday about the initiative.

The proposal calls for an expansion of spirit programs at the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses, the establishment of a women’s swimming and diving program, the creation of a football program, and the founding of a marching band for both campuses.

In order to properly fund this proposal, the department is calling on an $11.25 increase per credit hour for new incoming students beginning Fall 2022. This increase will not apply to students under the UTRGV established Guaranteed Tuition and Fees program.

The department has a planned-out time frame for when these programs would begin. The expanded spirit and swimming and diving programs would begin in Fall 2024, and the marching band and football competitions would begin in Fall 2025.

UTRGV’s swimming and diving team would compete at the Pharr Natatorium. Meanwhile, the football team would play one game in Brownsville and the rest in Edinburg at locations yet to be determined.

According to the plan put forward by the department, the football program potentially creates $13.2 million in economic impact for the Rio Grande Valley.

The Western Athletic Conference recently added five programs and will reinstate football at the Football Championship Subdivision starting in 2022. 

“The WAC expansion was a big piece of the puzzle,” said UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque.

The university conducted a feasibility study in 2016 that concluded the addition of football to be favorable among the student body, however, the university had other priorities at the time. 

“The timing wasn’t right. But then you also had to acknowledge at the time, the WAC did not sponsor division I football. And so today we sit in a very different position. When the announcement happened back in January, we knew and we communicated that this was going to give us a path forward to have these conversations,” said Conque.  

The SGA will decide whether or not to bring the referendum to the student body for a vote, if not no action will be taken.

“I think locally when we talk about Rallying the Valley, our football team would be committed to playing in both Edinburg and Brownsville so we feel like this can be a unifier for our region,” said Conque.  “We think Saturday can be for the Vaqueros, we think Saturday can be that day that brings the whole valley together.”

Conque added that he hopes the SGA will send this to the student body for a vote this fall. If approved, they plan on bringing it to the UT System Board of Regents in February 2023.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify how the referendum will be handled. The headline has been updated to reflect the correct increase.

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