Utah State University's student fee board has unanimously rejected a proposed $3 increase in athletic fees and approved a $1 hike to help the school comply with federal Title IX guidelines instead.

The non-binding decision of the student group will go to USU president Stanford Cazier and then to the school's institutional council, which has the final say.After the meeting Friday, Val Christensen, USU vice president for student services, said he saw "very strong support" for the federal government's Title IX among student leaders. The guidelines mandate equal opportunity for both sexes in sports and other educational programs.

Tom Furst, who represents graduate students on the board, said "there needs to be more value for the entertainment received versus support for what amounts to about 300 athletes through ever-increasing athletic fees.

"I think the institution's major emphasis should always be academics rather than athletics," he said.

Kenneth Peterson, assistant athletic director, told the board one reason the $3 increase is needed is to maintain athletic scholarships at a competitive level.

"One dollar of the increase would be designated to help comply with Title IX, and that is extremely important to our department," Peterson said.

Several members of the fee board said they doubted the athletic department's commitment to the federal guidelines. Student body president Michelle Henrie said she has felt a "lackadaisical attitude" on the part of some department members.

"Until students demand compliance with Title IX, it will never happen and I fear the department's one-dollar commitment would be divided up to support other causes," she said.