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MSU alumni to lose recreation center perk

Associated Press

East Lansing — Alumni of Michigan State University are about to lose a little-used perk that offered them free access to recreation facilities on campus.

Starting in January, they’ll have to pay $180 a year for recent graduates and $360 a year for those who have been out of school five years or more, with additional charges for access to the fitness centers and classes, the Lansing State Journal reported.

For decades, the East Lansing university offered access to swimming pools, basketball courts and racket sports facilities in Intramural Sports buildings. Rick McNeil, director of recreational sports and fitness services at the university, has been shopping around the idea of a fee for the last couple of years.

“No other Big Ten school permits free access to their alumni and a couple of them prohibit alumni because they don’t have enough space,” McNeil said.

Most of the recreation facilities were built when the campus population was 25,000 students and less, but that number has doubled. Funding is tight and the university’s general fund covers less than $1 million of the $2.7 million budget for McNeil’s department.

“We’re trying to nickel and dime to improve facilities,” he said.

Fewer than 350 alumni take advantage of the program, the newspaper said. The change is supported by the MSU Alumni Association.

Still, the plans have received some criticism.

“We’ve got quite a bit of money invested in Michigan State University and then they come down with a policy that your health is secondary to our pocketbook,” said Tom Garvale, a 1971 graduate of the university who lives in Okemos.

Garvale’s wife and two daughters and one of his sons-in-law are graduates, as well. He has been using the school’s racquetball courts regularly since 1989.