Volume 91, Issue 47
Thursday, November 20, 1997
stars and strife
Mustangs team up to discuss deficit woes
Graphic by Janice Olynich
By John Intini
With a threat that the colour green might be missing from Western's Christmas this season, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association called two separate meetings on Tuesday night to tackle a fiscal problem as well as get some feedback on sport financing.
Western's chair of athletics, Darwin Semotiuk, said Intercollegiate Athletics will be forced to cut back in varsity spending this year based on a substantial debt, that although not concrete, will range in the tens of thousands of dollars when the sports budget is announced later in April.
"Like all units within the university, there are always money problems that have to be addressed," Semotiuk said. "It's a daunting challenge to reduce expenses, but based on depleting resources, it's necessary."
Although the meetings provided no final decisions, Semotiuk said the point was to have them act as forums for discussion.
In a memo distributed to the coaches and captains of Western's 36 teams inviting them to the meetings, a number of suggestions aimed at decreasing spending and making better use of resources were listed.
The key issues addressed at the meetings ranged from decreasing the meal subsidy provided to players during out-of-town games (currently $14 a day), to the complete elimination of the university sports program all together.
Although Semotiuk said the expected debt is not as bad as first believed, changes will be necessary to make up for some fiscal restraints. He added the complete elimination of varsity sports was simply an option put on the table so the coaches and players could see the possible ramifications of the deficit.
Semotiuk reported the majority of money in this year's sport budget (68.5 per cent) is provided by student activity fees. But because student fees have decreased, as lower rates have been charged to students, the sports budget can not depend on these fees to cover its costs to the same degree.
Other than the use of fees, university sports are also subsidized through team fund-raising, summer camps and sponsorships.
According to Semotiuk, the main reason for the debt is the success of the Mustang teams.
"When the soccer team has to travel to Halifax for the nationals it costs thousands of dollars," he said. "The changes are necessary but our biggest problem is the fact we have some really talented teams. It seems that success equals a deficit, which, in the fiscal sense, is negative but is countered by the benefits of having successful athletic programs."
Accountability was also a key debating point at both meetings, as coaches and captains were asked whether cuts should equally affect all teams or just be applied to specific sports.
Mustang women's volleyball coach Dean Lowrie said the most important thing discussed was a need felt by all coaches to preserve the Mustang athletic tradition.
"There is no way we want to jeopardize our notion of having elite sports," Lowrie said. "It is important that we do not create situations that would stop students from choosing Western, which would only add to what I feel is now a very containable problem."
Coaches and captains will continue to meet leading up to the advisory committee's deliberations which begin Dec. 2. Semotiuk said more concrete figures on the debt and other solutions to the fiscal matter will be available next week.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997