Admin commits to IA funding

$1.7 million agreement to last four years

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Following a landmark announcement by Intercollegiate Athletics and Western’s administration last month, over 400 varsity athletes will no longer have to exclusively fund their endeavours.

Under a new funding arrangement, Western’s administration agreed to provide $680,000 over four years for the 18 formerly non-funded varsity teams who represent the school in Ontario University Athletics competition. The funding helps offset the costs of equipment and uniforms, travel, facility rentals, coaching stipends and other team costs.

“We’ve been in discussions here with administration for more than two years to attempt to change the construct of how the teams are funded, what teams are funded, and the tiering system,” said Western Sports and Recreation Director Michael Lysko.

“We were in a position where we needed to make a logical and convincing case for [changing the system], and that’s what I think we’ve done.”

Western baseball head coach Mike Lumley discussed how the funding would affect his team, which previously received no money under the tiering system, during the upcoming season.

“It removes some of the financial burden that’s put on the players,” he said. “In the past they had to choose between taking buses or [playing in] Labatt Park, and now they don’t have to make that choice.”

Lumley said each player on his roster had to pay approximately $400 this past year to play on the team.

In addition to providing funds for the currently non-funded teams, administration also committed $700,000 in seed money for athletic scholarships over the next four years for athletes who compete in Canadian Interuniversity Sport sanctioned sports.

Under newly created guidelines, Ontario schools are now allowed to offer entry level scholarships to student-athletes up to a maximum of $3500 per year, which covers approximately 70 per cent of their tuition.

“The scholarships certainly don’t prevent migration of an athlete from here to a U.S. school, but its intent is to prevent the automatic migration of student-athletes to the eastern or western coast schools,” Lysko said.

In order to qualify for an athletic scholarship, athletes must have an 80 per cent average coming out of high school and maintain a 70 per cent average in university.

While other schools have not made their scholarship allocations public, Lysko said coaches at Western have an idea of what their competitors are offering.

“Nobody has made it [scholarships at other schools] public knowledge, but we have a good idea for certain sports. You figure out what sports are going to be the most competitive in terms of what recruiting needs coaches have, and you allocate [them] accordingly,” he said.

Fred Longstaffe, provost and VP-academic at Western, said the former tiering system was put in place six years ago when the school was in a worse financial position and needed to make cutbacks in a number of operational areas.

With the school in better financial shape, Western provides funding for currently non-funded teams, and will provide an additional $105,000 starting in 2008/09 to offset increasing varsity team costs such as travel, Longstaffe added.

For scholarship money, $300,000 of the total funds will come from Western’s operating budget, while $400,000 will come from the Western fund, which are unrestricted donations from Western alumni.

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