Mar 282012
 
Authors: Kate Winkle

Approximately 1,200 CSU students participate in the school’s 29 club sports teams, according to university spokesman Mike Hooker.

And, while those teams receive school support through student fees, it usually covers one-eighth to one-ninth of the teams costs –– leaving most individual members to make up the difference through fundraising.

It costs $200,000 to run a season of men’s ice hockey at CSU, but the team receives only about $8,000 from the school, according to the Assistant Director of Sports Clubs Aaron Harris.

Why is this? Because CSU’s ice hockey team is a club team.

“They talk about wanting to build a new football stadium, but why not build an ice facility on campus? It would be the biggest boost to lower cost,” said Kelly Newton, head coach of CSU’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Men’s Program.

Logan VonBokel, president of CSU’s 50-person cycling team – winners of several national championships, is also no stranger to stretching the funds his team gets from CSU. According to VonBokel, the money hardly goes far.

“It’s not nearly enough,” he said. “We receive $4,000 total for mountain and road biking for travel and that’s about it. We hardly ever travel outside Colorado, but it doesn’t go far.

“We have a lot to compete with on a national scale, including varsity sports teams with more support from their schools.”

In comparison, CSU’s varsity athletics program budget, which totals $23.5 million and funds 16 varsity sports, covers recruiting and operating expenses and provides scholarships for athletes who compete in the NCAA Division I programs.

Football and basketball programs accounted for approximately 46 percent of expenses last year, according to a report by the Office of Postsecondary Education.

“Universities have to choose which sports to fund as varsity programs,” Hooker said. “It would be great if there were unlimited money to fund all sports at the varsity level, but the reality is that funds are limited.

“Club sports are an opportunity for many serious athletes in non-varsity sports to continue competing, at an often very high level, and represent CSU regionally and nationally.”

CSU Sports Information Director Zak Gilbert, explained in an email to the Collegian that athletic department program recruitment of highly competitive scholarship athletes who balance intense training and academic workloads separates club and varsity sports.

“All of that is what drives the business of college athletics,” Gilbert said. “If you look around at other major universities, the amount of attention we receive as an athletic department is no different.

Although CSU’s ice hockey team is a club sport, Newton insisted that their competitiveness and record sets the team apart.

“We really don’t run the program like a club sport,” Newton said. “We’ve been top 10 in the NCHA, we play at venues like the Pepsi Center and Budweiser Center, we actively recruit Canadian and U.S. players. A lot of other schools are offering in-state tuition that I can’t.”

Varsity athletics do a lot to promote CSU and generate revenue, which last year totaled a little more than $2.23 million, according to a report by the Office of Postsecondary Education. Recruitment and sports success become incentives to attend CSU.

“I understand football brings students to CSU, but it’s not just football,” VonBokel said. “Cycling has done a lot to bring students to school, but we have no scholarships. They come from outside to race and bike, but get nothing from the school for it.”

Although some of CSU’s club sports are varsity sports elsewhere, Hooker points out that students’ primary reasons for attending CSU isn’t linked to sports opportunities.

“Club sport athletes have chosen to attend CSU – a top-tier nationally, recognized research university – for a host of other reasons,” Hooker said. “They knew going into it that although their sport isn’t a varsity sport, CSU was still their best choice as a place to earn an outstanding education, and as part of the equation they still are able to compete in athletics as part of their college experience.”

Collegian reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at news@collegian.com.

$24.5 million: total expenses for varsity teams, 2010-2011
$26.7 million: total revenues for varsity teams, 2010-2011
$6.2 million: athletically related student aid for varsity teams, 2010-2011
$575,719: varsity athletics recruiting expenses, 2010-2011
$100: funding provided for the club field hockey team, 2011-2012
$4,000: funding provided for the club cycling team, 2011-2012
$8,000: funding provided to the club ice hockey team, 2011-2012

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