Budgets “cut” WCU student athletes future

As budget cuts in UNC schools continue to increase, Western Carolina University is facing negative changes especially for the athletic department.

With a budget cut now reaching 15 percent, the athletic department will have to make changes in recruitment techniques but it is also going to make adjustments in the way scholarships are awarded to athletes. More adjustments include jobs and funding for study hall.

“Western’s athletic department offers more than giving students athletes a chance to receive their degree, it also gives student athletes the opportunity to compete in their favorite sport while in school,” said Jamaal Mayo, Assistant director of Athletics.

The budget cuts will have a big impact on the scholarships given for the future athletes.

“No out-of-state student athlete will be able to be awarded a full state scholarship at the cost of NC tuition, it’s like student athletes are being laid off,” said Mayo.

This new rule was passed by the North Carolina legislature in July 2010. Before this rule came into effect, when an out-of-state student athlete receives a scholarship to an NC school, that student would get instate tuition instead of out of state tuition thus saving money. This is called the ‘Out-of-state waiver’. Without this waiver, WCU’s athletic department has to compromise with the change that is coming. According to Chancellor Bardo letter in July of 2010 to WCU, since the out of state waiver is not in effect anymore, WCU’s athletic department will have to raise an additional 620,000 dollars to compensate for the scholarship money.

“We have to do more fundraising on top of the fundraising that we’re already doing to get more money so that we can get more athletes”, said Mayo.

Fundraising that WCU’s athletic department participates in is the Catamount Club in which Mayo, along with other coaches and assistants reach out to Alumni students and businesses seeking support (monetary or trade) to support their development. As of December 2010, the Catamount Club has raised 103,767 dollars. Living by their motto ‘ Funding Scholarships Win Championships’, by June 2011 the Catamount Club plan to raise 500,000 dollars to support the athletic center in awarding scholarship money. In-state student athletes can be awarded 10,000 plus dollars in scholarship money where as out-of-state students can be awarded 20,000 plus dollars.

“This new rule passed on the ‘out of state waiver’ isn’t fair,” said the Coordinator of Academic Services for student athletes, Kendra

Eaton feels there are more disadvantages.

“Coaches use to rely on the ‘out of state waiver’ and now they can’t because it’s no longer there.”

With the new rule, Coaches will either have to invest more money into student athletes who are out-of-state or focus on recruiting athletes in North Carolina. Eaton feels this new idea can have benefits but also consequences.

“Coaches looking at more in-state student athletes is cheaper but then again some of the best players are out-of-state. Coaches have to put into consideration if they really want that particular athlete or not and if so, how much money will be invested in that athlete.”

To freshman Track and Field runner Aaron Trumpet, whether a student athlete is in-state or out-of-state shouldn’t matter.

“Coaches should focus on recruiting the best athletes, that’s their job anyway. Coaches need to provide a winning program at their particular school. If a Coach provides the school with a good winning team, future student athletes will want to be recruited. That’s why I came to Western.”

UNC’s budget cuts will not only effect recruitment at Western, it will also affect AEP (Academic Enhancement Program) study hall. Kendra Eaton, who is in charge of AEP study hall, knows that a drastic change will come due to budget cuts. Since budget cuts will decrease the amount of money in the athletic department, AEP study hall will not have as much funds to spend on materials and tools that matter or will benefit athletes.

“There will definitely be a limit on buying certain things and it’s sad, if the department doesn’t have as much funds then we can’t buy printers and computers for the athletes to use while their in study hall. If these athletes don’t have the tools, how can they do their work in study hall?”

Another change within study hall would be jobs for students and staff. If there is not enough money in athletic departments budget, Kendra Eaton will not be able to hire as many workers to assist in study hall because there would not be enough money to pay them all. With only three student assistant workers in study hall and seven rooms filled with student athletes, much work is required to maintain a quiet working environment for these students.

Despite the low amount of assistant student workers, Basketball player Janae McKinney has no complaints.

“I work well in structured hours. I like how everyone’s required to be quiet while others are working and that there isn’t that much distraction. I go into study hall, do what I have to do, and leave. Its beneficial to me because once my study hours are over, I am usually done with all my work so I have more time to just relax.”

Staff in the athletic department will be effected by budget cuts as people will have more jobs than expected, Eaton knows this well as she is in charge of numerous things.

“People here have to wear multiple hats. That is, we have more than one job now. I, myself am the SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) advisor along with being in charge of AEP study hall, and I am in charge of bringing in guest speakers which is a lot of work in itself.”

Eaton, along with the athletic department usually bring in different guest speakers dealing with nutrition, time management, academics to talk to student athletes to make their college experience beneficial. But with not enough money in the budget, not only can Eaton not hire many student workers; she also will not be able to bring in important speakers to talk to student athletes.

Though these changes are taking into effect soon, Western’s athletic department will not let this change hinder the department too much as they get grants from NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) along with their fundraiser the Catamount Club. Eaton knows that as long as the athletic department makes decisions wisely, things will be fine.

“No one likes budget cuts because usually nothing good comes from it, but this situation will make us be more cautious of how we spend our money and what we invest our time in.”