Why is USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner concerned about a GOP tax plan?

Why is USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner concerned about a GOP tax plan?
Updated: Nov. 3, 2017 at 11:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The definition of a diehard fan isn't in the dictionary. Instead, head to Section 115 at Colonial Life Arena.

When the champion Gamecock women are on the court, that section becomes Dawn's 115 Club and they have the t-shirts to prove it.

"My wife and I have been coming to these games when there was less than a thousand people here, so now to see full house – 18,000 strong – it's great," David White, who has season tickets in that section said.

To White, they're some of the hottest tickets in town. But soon his season tickets might cost him more in the long run because of a tax plan that was drawn up by congressional Republicans.

Part of that plan would get rid of a tax deduction that's often used as a sales pitch to get people to buy those pricier seasons tickets at Colonial Life Arena, at Williams Brice Stadium, and at venues across the country across college sports.

In order to buy season tickets at the University of South Carolina or elsewhere, a fan has to pay a membership fee, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Right now, up to 80% of that membership donation is tax deductible, which helps offset the price of season tickets. With that gone, Athletics Director Ray Tanner would be in a jam.

"You can't operate business as usual if we lose those opportunities and those deductions. I think people have to look at things a lot differently if that goes away, and that certainly will affect, you know, what we do and how we operate at the collegiate level," Tanner said. "If a lot of those opportunities go away, then we may have to go to the university for some help – for some subsidy – to reach our budget in order to reach the budget. Is that what you do? Or do you offer less sports? Do you have less employees? I think there has to be an effect somewhere, and again, it's way early."

In other words, it could drive away generous season ticket holders, but not Jeff Jones.

"Looking at the plan, we'd be more than happy to give up the deduction," he said.

Tanner's fear is that the plan could cause college athletic programs across the country to consider steps that aren't fun to talk about: pricier tickets, layoffs, maybe even cutting certain sports. Additionally, athletic programs might have to ask their universities for subsidies if straits become dire.

"Will it affect everybody? I don't think it will affect everybody. A lot of people are going to give. But the opportunities that the tax deduction is it's attractive to us and it's attractive to the donor," Tanner said.

The plan is in its infancy and is just a proposal. However, Tanner told WIS he's ready to oppose it if it advances.

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