Like many economists, I’m a bit of secret fan of former University of Chicago economics professor Milton Friedman and his “Free to Choose” book – and opposed to making our students subsidize big-time sports and coaches salaries.
Googling around, I find plenty of universities that give students the option of paying for sports ticket packages, rather than forcing them to do so, e.g. UT-Austin: https://catalog.utexas.edu/general-information/registration-tuition-and-fees/tuition-and-fees/optional-fees/
The Big Ticket is the UT Austin sports pass giving students access to home, regular season Texas Longhorns Athletics events for just $175 (plus $20 processing fee). More details on the Big Ticket are available on TexasSports.com/BigTicket, and are also emailed to active UT Austin students.
Texas doesn’t seem to have a problem filling the student section or getting the students to stay for the whole game – a long-time problem for the Ducks, as noted in this Daily Emerald story by Kenny Jacoby: https://www.dailyemerald.com/sports/football/oregon-beats-arizona-state-but-many-student-fans-leave-before-the-ending/article_7518a43a-3219-570a-9a35-a14e1ad8da04.html
This is just what Uncle Milton would have predicted. It’s his argument against the Vietnam War draft lottery, but in reverse. The mandatory fee with lottery means many students who get a ticket don’t really care that much about the game – while an optional fee will select for those students who are most likely to show up, most likely to wear face paint for the TV cameras, and most likely to stay to the end. A Pareto Improvement, as we say.
If people object to the inequity of the price mechanism, the athletic department can simply give a discount to students on financial aid – sort of like the Earned Income Tax Credit – also a Friedman idea.
For contrast, here’s President Schill’s proposal for a new mandatory fee on all UO Students, to replace the current fee which UO’s ASUO student government has voted to eliminate. He wants to make everyone pay – there’s not even a clause allowing for conscientious objectors: