Club sports face off against athletic department for financial support

Despite the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation’s goal of providing “equitable opportunities for all students interested in intercollegiate athletics, intramurals and recreation,” some club athletes have expressed concern over the amount of support they receive.

The women’s club ice hockey team began inquiring about obtaining more practice time at a lower cost roughly a year and a half ago, according to President and Co-captain senior Hannah Allen, who represented the team at the Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 Student Association meetings.

On the latter date, SA allocated $2,800 to the women’s club ice hockey team for additional practice time in the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena.

According to Allen, in previous years, the women’s club ice hockey team used the arena’s open skate and “skate and shoot” time slots, as well as Highland Park’s outdoor ice rink. For part of the 2011-2012 season, the team practiced twice a week, but in the early morning on chopped ice, which Allen said posed safety concerns.

The team received enough funds from SA to afford practicing multiple times a week. Further, the women’s club ice hockey team will pay 38 percent, or $70, of what outside renters pay, or $185.

“Shouldn’t we be getting support from the people who run that department?” Allen said.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation however, is not financially responsible for club sports.

“We try to help them with facilities as best we can … but their funding comes out of Student Association,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Michael Mooney said.

In addition to women’s club ice hockey, SA recognizes nine other club sports: baseball, crew, cheerleading, men’s and women’s rugby, skiing, men’s volleyball, coed Ultimate Frisbee and men’s tennis. Mooney said the department cannot afford to cater to club sports, adding that “We have no money for that.”

According to Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio, in the SUNY system Geneseo requires the highest athletics fee at $420 this year, which is $76 higher than last year’s SUNY average. This money goes directly toward the athletics line, one of the department’s two Income Fund Reimbursable budgets. The athletics line generates revenue through ticket sales and tournament reimbursements and the majority pays for salaries of administrators, coaches and other staff members, their overhead and fringe benefits, as well as travel, contractual services and equipment.

The other IFR budget is called the Health and Physical Education Rent General – funded by workout center memberships and rentals of facilities – and the majority covers additional salaries, their overhead and fringe benefits and student workers’ paychecks.

The department receives $370,662 in state allocation; however, according to Mooney, almost every cent is spent on his salary, as well as those of the head athletic trainer, sports information director and four classified workers, including secretaries and equipment issue.

“It’s kind of a tough position we get put in of trying to accommodate what students want and have the revenue to do it,” Mooney said. “And the way the system is set up, we have to charge outside users to use the facility, we have to charge our own students for different facilities because if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to provide them.”

“I think in a perfect world, if the athletics department had unlimited funding and the school had unlimited funding … I would like it so we could have regular practice times every week for free through the school because it is a school facility [and] have a set number of home games that we’re allotted,” Allen said. “I think we’re on our way there, it’s just that we’re getting hit with so much resistance.”