Athletics faces budget cut decisions

Although the athletic department is funded laregly through internal resources, it will be cut about $200,000 in state funding in the projected UW System budget cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.

Karlie Winchester, [email protected]

The athletics department, which is funded mostly by auxiliary enterprises and general purpose tax dollars, will see a cut of $200,000 in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will see a structural deficit of $5 million going into the next biennium which begins this summer. On top of this, Gov. Scott Walker has proposed an approximate $150 million a year base reduction to the UW-System’s budget from the state, which could result in an additional $3 to $5 million cut to UW-Platteville. According to Chancellor Dennis Shields, exact details regarding the additional reductions will not be known until mid-June.

“In the athletic department we have to self-generate about 47 percent of our operating budget, so that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and we do that through a variety of methods such as donations, fundraising activities, out of pocket expenses by the athletes, concession sales and ticket sales,” Mark Molesworth, university athletic director said.

Loss of funding will result in repercussions including the inability to fill the Sports Information Director position, which was vacant following the departure of Justin Bohn. In order to make up for this loss, the department has taken the responsibilities of the position and distributed them among current staff members and student assistants. Molesworth said the redistribution of duties will affect eight to 10 staff members in the department.

Some of the responsibilities of this position include reporting to the NCAA and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and posting statistics and nominations for all-conference and all-regional student athletes.

“If our athletes achieve at a high level, whether it’s academically or athletically, we want them to be able to be recognized,” Molesworth said.

The department will also cut six graduate assistant positions.

Molesworth said one of the biggest impacts is the cut to the equipment budget.

“We are only going to buy things that are necessary. If we have a pole vaulter that breaks a pole, we have to buy them a new pole otherwise they can’t do their event,” Molesworth said.

Molesworth identified himself as the sole spokesperson of the athletics department.

“We have met with all of our head coaches, taken ideas, run plans by them and taken their feedback similar to what the campus did with all the governance groups,” Molesworth said. “We kind of follow that same path and I will be the one person that speaks regarding our budget cut in the department and how we go about dealing with it.”

Shields said a fee increase for student athletes has been discussed, but no decision has been made. Athletes pay a $100 fee to participate in varsity athletics.

Because UW-Platteville is an NCAA Division III school, students cannot be charged to attend athletic events, nor can athletes receive scholarships.

“The idea is that [athletes] are like other students,” Shields said. “We are not allowed to charge current students for attending athletic events. It’s not viewed generally as a revenue generator like you would see in Division I.”

Because club sports and intramurals are partially funded through the Segregated University Fee Allocation Commission, they will not be affected by the cuts to the athletic department.

Shields said the role of being a part of a team is a key learning experience. Shields serves on the Division III President’s Council, as chair of the Council of Chancellors for WIAC and is a former Division III athlete.

“In any environment where you are working with a group, in a group, as a member of a group, working towards a shared goal, there is a lot to be learned from that,” Shields said. “I would not assert that athletics is the only way that you can have that experience but it’s one of the ways and I am very proud of the athletic department and the men and women who participate. They represent us well.”