Budget cuts affecting the Student Athlete

Tough economic times have led to difficult decisions in regards to university budget cuts. Schools must choose which programs to keep and fund, and which ones to dismiss of entirely. There have been cuts at many of the University of California campuses, to the extent of reducing the number of courses offered to furloughing professors and even eliminating majors. Student athletes in particular are effected by the changes in university investments. Unfortunately for the small population of student athletes, most of their peers would choose to get rid of the well-funded athletic programs. Cutting funding for athletics poses a huge problem for student athletes. Most student athletes know that their efforts to succeed in college sports may not result in a professional career. However, many are passionately attached to their sport and would be devastated if their sport was no longer supported by their school. Asking an athlete to give up an activity that they participate in everyday is unfair and this action takes away part of the full college experience that they were offered upon admittance.

Among the UC campuses across the state, so far UC Davis, Cal, UC Irvine, and UCLA have all made drastic budgetary cuts to their NCAA athletic programs, some were even terminated. In the spring of 2010, UC Davis cut four varsity sports: men’s wrestling, swimming, and indoor track and field, and women’s rowing. These cuts are projected to save $5 million dollars over the next five years. Although this seems to be a reasonable solution to the university’s struggle to stay out of debt, it is a significant loss for student athletes. Most of these students have dedicated hundreds of hours over the course of their life to learning and mastering their sport. Regular students would likely feel the same disappointment if their club or organization was cut due to lack of funding.

It is hard for students who are unaffiliated with sports to understand the commitment that athletes have to their sport. The time that athletes spend with their sport, either with the team at practice or otherwise, is often twenty plus hours a week. Students who do not play a sport in college sometimes do not take into account that athletics is quite similar to an extra curricular activity, such as a club or church group. Those in sports and other university activities share a common problem: competing priorities of attaining a higher education and giving attention to their individual passions. The voice of the student athlete represents a small minority on campus, which can often become buried during budget cuts.

If the University of California campuses are forced to make budget cuts to athletic teams, prospective students will consider the impact of this when selecting which college to attend. This may weaken the UC teams substantially, for much of their athletic strength comes from intelligent students willing to sacrifice time away from school for their school’s sport. Athletes currently in college when their sport gets cut due to finances are faced with the tough decision of whether or not to transfer to a school that does offer them the opportunity to compete. Many students have become too attached to their school’s spirit, friends, and professors to ever consider leaving. So how can an athlete be compensated for an experience that they were expecting to have at their university? Besides transferring, there really is no other option for competing at the same level. Many NCAA teams that are cut will convert to club sports, but this is only a lesser substitute. Sport club teams are only minimally funded and often are unable to compete against NCAA teams. Cutting NCAA sports is not simply a hindrance to student athletes, it changes their life in a huge way.

Written by Bianca Sievers
Edited by Andrea Herman

Image Source: studentprintz.com

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