New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf’s recent tweet concerning the discrepancy in season-ticket pricing for the University of New Mexico men’s and women’s basketball teams is certainly “on brand” for a lawmaker who sponsored the state’s Fair Pay For Women Act.
“Hey @UNM, @UNMLOBOS, and @EddieNunezAD, why are you charging *LESS* for season tickets for Women’s basketball than you charge for @UNMLoboMBB?” Egolf asked in an Oct. 27 tweet. “Not a good look. #NMPOL @nmhighered.”
You know what else isn’t a good look?
A high-ranking elected official making it appear as if UNM is some kind of misogynistic outlier in the world of big-time athletics. Egolf singled out UNM for a practice that is nearly universal across NCAA Division I member schools.
But worse than ignoring the obvious — that attendance, not gender, drives the price of tickets — the speaker offered little in the way of a solution to this nonexistent “problem.”
UNM, he said, could consider equalizing the prices for men’s and women’s basketball or offering season-ticket packages that grant access to both teams’ games.
If Egolf is truly a champion of women’s sports, he should understand how the university’s ticket-pricing structure helps, not hurts, women’s programs. Raising ticket prices for women’s games to make them commensurate with men’s would lower attendance. Lowering men’s ticket prices would lower revenues that help support all athletics programs — men’s and women’s. And either would be to the detriment of women’s programs.
Egolf added the university could seek financial help from the Legislature to address the issue. How will that play in light of the year-after-year red ink the Athletic Department has struggled to stanch, red ink the state Higher Education Department has scolded UNM to get under control?
How did that work out for men’s soccer?
Federal law requires universities to offer equal facilities, court time, travel budgets and amenities to like programs. That’s what’s important — not inflating or slashing ticket prices in the name of gender equality.
Only a politician could dream up such a solution in search of a problem, and on the public’s dime, no less.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.