What will candidates do for IA?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs women's baseball

Jon Purdy

In this year’s University Students’ Council election, the presidential candidates have been taking a greater role in addressing issues facing Mustang Athletics.

The first issue is of course the current tiered funding system, which stretches a limited budget across varsity teams on a sliding scale.

“We need to have a more level playing field,” Ryan Gauss says. “And [although] the football team’s a different case, in terms of other teams we need to see it as a per-head basis.”

Stephen Lecce suggests extra funding could come from lobbying and fundraising initiatives.

“I really have two plans,” Lecce says. “The first one is to lobby the administration for more funding for Interuniversity Athletics, and the second is a Western bracelet campaign. If you remember the leather-brand bracelets the charity team sold, they were very successful.”

But Gauss doesn’t think bracelets will be able to raise enough money.

“While selling bracelets to fundraise for athletics is an idea, I really don’t think it’s something that’s tangible,” he says. “I really don’t see it as something that’s going to raise enough money to help every team from the lacrosse team down to the football team.”

Christan Mariyanayagam says it’s unfeasible to solve the system all at once, but he wants to begin one team at a time.

“I mention an incentive program for varsity athletes that’ll cover all the uniforms for one team per year, and that’ll go on a rotating basis,” he says. “I think it’s a starting point " I don’t think it’s the solution to everything " but it shows that I’m keeping varsity athletes in mind.”

In contrast, candidate Mitch Steinberg thinks larger teams deserve more money, but would like to add funding by securing National Collegiate Athletic Association status.

“Obviously the teams right now that are getting the most tickets sold, and the most hype " they deserve the most money because they’re getting people out to their games,” he says. “It’d be great to be able to fund all the teams, but it’s just not realistic.

“My personal choice, if it’s possible, is to try to get NCAA status for the school. It is a lofty goal, but it’s something that could happen, and I think it’d be great for the school and great for the country...

“It would give us the opportunity to give scholarships to our student athletes, which would entail making the program better because so many athletes from Canada are going down to the [United] States because they’re able to offer them scholarships and benefits.”

Gauss disagrees.

“There have been talks about putting us in the NCAA,” he says. “That’s not the right direction. We need to establish what it means to be positive about our athletics, and what it means to work forward and to look for opportunities that will make sure our athletes aren’t forgotten about.”

Part of that involves getting fans into the stands.

“One thing we have is HYPE,” Lecce says. “I think if we were able to utilize our promotional teams to help [IA], specifically teams like big championships teams, if we wanted to get people out I think that would really help.”

Steinberg and Mariyanayagam agree HYPE is a valuable tool, and believe in day-to-day marketing.

“It’s another important thing for us to let students know on a day-to-day basis what sports are going on, and what events they can go out to,” Mariyanayagam says. “That’s why I have initiatives like the campus-wide mailer in my platform.”

Another important issue is the availability of practice space for athletes.

“I would be advocating for use of the aquatic centre at either a discount or a free rate, to try to say to the City of London ‘Let’s partner together,’” Gauss says. “For squash, too, working with the North London Athletic Centre " they have some state of the art squash courts.”

Lecce and Mariyanayagam also hope to secure practice space at the new Thompson Recreation and Athletic Centre.

“I think it’s our job as the USC to help partner with groups across London to make practice space available,” Mariyanayagam says. “And I think we should proactively try to make sure practice space is available in the new rec centre when construction there is complete.”

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