Towson cuts fall sports, but not athletics fee?

However, students could still be on the hook for a $499 per semester athletics fee.

Towson University announced that it will not participate in student athletics during the fall semester.

Towson University will suspend sports for the upcoming semester, but students could still be on the hook to pay an athletics fee.

The Maryland school recently announced the decision not to participate in fall sports due to COVID-19 safety concerns. 

“This decision was not made lightly,” athletic director Tim Leonard said in a statement. “I know the impact this will have on our student-athletes and the greater Towson community. It is going to be significant.  But it became evident to us during weeks, months, of discussions with the other athletic directors both in the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) as well as in this region that it would be nearly impossible to play a full fall sports season.” 

The director said that the university will refer to “federal, state, and local guidelines as we are moving forward when we make an informed decision regarding the winter and spring sports.”

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide increase tuition, despite pandemic; One imposes ‘COVID-19 fee’] 

Towson President Kim Schatzel expressed disappointment for student-athletes, as well as gratitude for the leadership of the athletic director and other staff. 

“We will continue to support our Tigers through this challenge,” she said. 

Amid the university’s decision to postpone sports, students expressed outrage, saying that they are still on the hook for their $499 per semester athletics fee. 

A student-led petition began circulating with the aim of getting rid of the fee. 

“Towson University has released a statement concerning the decision to not participate in athletics for the fall 2020 semester. However, Towson students are still being asked to pay a $499 athletic fee for events that will not happen. Many of us know that these are extremely hard and unprecedented times that may cause a handful of hardships for students. The $499 athletic fee should be refunded to students’ accounts to help relieve some of the stress placed on students and families due to COVID-19,” the petition, signed by more than 4,600 people, reads.

[RELATED: California college plans online fall classes, expects students to stick with on-campus housing] 

“My son is not on campus and will be having to settle for online instruction. Why should he pay for something he won’t be using?” one person commented on the petition. 

“Towson has shown us numerous times that they are a business first and an institution second,” a student commented. “There should be no reason why we as students are supposed to pay an athletics fee when sports are canceled this semester,” another opined. 

One comment read, “I’m a full-time teacher, a grad student at TU, and my fiance’s place of work has been closed for 4 months -- I do not know how I’m going to pay for groceries this month, but I do know that TU isn’t going to use my money for anything athletics-related that has to do with me.” 

Towson University did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mariatcopeland