Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Mustangs eye 23rd OUA title

Athletic community worried about cuts

Student groups a little trigger happy

Athletic community worried about cuts

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

The athletic community at Western is facing the possibility of a $282,000 budget cut for next year.

Two separate proposals were presented by the Society of Graduate Students and the Student Services Committee to the Campus and Community Affairs Committee on Monday. If passed by the Board of Governors, the cuts will axe over 10 per cent of the budget for intercollegiate athletics. The budget currently stands at $2.4 million.

Kelly Barrowcliffe, president of SOGS, said the backbone of their cost complaint came down to a lack of involvement and access to the athletic program. Currently, only 29 graduate students have roles as athletes, coaches or support staff, she said. Barrowcliffe added league eligibility restrictions often prevent other athletes from official competition.

Ian Armour, president of the University Students' Council and representative of the Student Services Committee, said it is unfair for students to pick up the tab while central administration does not spend a penny. "Students don't want to be the sole supporters anymore," he said.

Reaction from Western's athletic community was less than positive.

"It would mean a lot less teams at Western," said Western men's hockey coach Barry Martinelli. "There is no way we could operate without changes."

Martinelli said he understands students want the administration to put more money into the athletic program but doubted student money would be replaced by the university.

"We are going to have to find creative ways we can keep ourselves on line," he said.

Karen Martaugh, captain of the women's indoor hockey team, said athletics has attempted to reassure the smaller teams that cutting squads is not the department's first option. However, she still wonders where the money will be taken from if the proposals go through. "It's a bit scary. You have to wonder who and what it is going to affect," she said.

The program has already taken steps to lower dependence on student fees said Darwin Semotiuk, chair of intercollegiate athletics. Semotiuk calculated over the past six years the budget has dropped from 84 to 67 per cent of the student contributions.

A further reduction in that ratio would result in serious issues including a damaged recruiting program for Western, Semotiuk said.

"We risk losing an intercollegiate athletic program that is highly regarded in the province," he added.

Jack Fairs, head coach on the men's squash team, said athletes are already paying a large amount for the right to competition. "A lot of athletes are coughing up a lot of cash. These guys are not getting a lot of goodies for free."

The proposals will be delivered to the Board of Governors later this month for consideration.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999