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Students Speak Out About the Sports Budget

Fans and players cheer on the Mastodons in the IPFW vs IU men’s basketball game.

Photo credit: Aaron Suozzi

Fans and players cheer on the Mastodons in the IPFW vs IU men’s basketball game.
Written by: Communicator StaffDecember 08, 2016

The Fort Wayne Mastodons made history Nov. 23 with their unforeseen defeat of the IU Hoosiers.

Fort Wayne won the match at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 71-68 in overtime.

However, with the recent LSA meeting and USAP recommendations, the Athletics Department is currently under strict scrutiny.

Nine USAP recommendations were discussed at the Fort Wayne Senate Committee meeting Nov. 14. One item on the agenda was to “determine the campus community’s acceptable level of investment in Athletics.”

IPFW currently invests 4.4 percent of the general fund budget (2.6 percent of all funds) into Athletics, as stated in Senate Document 16-13.

This means the current budget dedicates nearly $8 million to less than two percent of the student population (232 student-athletes out of the 12,452 total enrollment).

To reduce this cost, the Senate is considering alternatives to IPFW’s status in NCAA Division I sports, according to the document.

Moving to Division II, Division III, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or discontinuing intercollegiate athletics altogether were all proposed at the Fort Wayne Senate meeting Nov. 14.

The Alden consultant report shows this change could save IPFW over $2.5 million annually.

While all of these options have the potential of long-term savings, exit fees and lost revenue of leaving Division I also must be considered.

Now, both students and athletes are wondering how this recent historical win will impact the decisions. After the win, many individuals are voicing opinions of support for IPFW’s Division 1 athletics.

“We beat IU; we are now competing at the same level,” freshman Computer Engineering major, Noah Hartman and sophomore Management and Administration major, Kendall Miedema said, “More people come knowing we are Division I.”

“I am unhappy they are cutting the Master’s degree in math,” mathematics professor, Lowell Beineke said. “But I also know of great math majors who would not have come (to IPFW) without athletics.”

Student-athletes bring a great deal to the student body, according to Vice Chancellor for Financial and Administrative Affairs David Wesse, who oversees Athletics.

Student-athletes graduate at a rate 2.5 times the rate of the general student body; they contribute over 3,000 hours in community service; and the Student Athlete Leadership Team works to promote mental health awareness and has trained approximately 200 individuals with COMPASS in suicide awareness, Wesse said.

Men’s volleyball player and graduate student, Nick Smalter, has been a student-athlete at IPFW since 2013 and said he believes IPFW should remain a Division I school.

“It would be going backwards if we were anything less,” Smalter said.

Others say they believe sports bring attention to IPFW.

“Sports give us a spotlight,” freshman Mechanical Engineering Technology major, Cole Berenyi said.

“A lot of people come for sport’s scholarships,” sophomore Accounting major, Paige Markly said.

On the other hand, even after the win, some students still feel cutbacks should be made in the Athletic Department before making cuts to academic programs.

Sophomore Computer Engineering student Brandon Gubara said he thinks IPFW should drop its Division I sport’s status before touching any academic funds.

“Our priority should be academics, since most of the population here does not belong to one of the teams,” Gubara said.

While Gubara’s statement about the student population is correct, the Alden consultant report reaffirms students’ opinions that Division I athletics brings numerous benefits to IPFW.

“The movement of the program, particularly basketball, to NCAA Division I and the success of all of the sports programs, brings added exposure to the University, not to mention community and regional goodwill,” stated the report.

However, despite the attention, Fort Wayne’s recent win over IU is not going to make an impact on any decision regarding sports funding or IPFW’s Division I status, according to Kimberly Wagner, IPFW’s Director of Public Relations.

“It was a tremendous upset, and we are very proud of the players, Coach Coffman and his staff and the many fans who cheered the team onto victory,” Wagner said. But “this one game will not impact any decision.”

At this point, it remains unknown how USAP and LSA will affect athletics, Wagner said.

There are currently 142 student-athletes enrolled in IU programs and 90 in Purdue programs, and little is known of what the split will do to the Fort Wayne Mastodons.

Furthermore, USAP has had very little effect on the Athletic Department thus far, as there is one student-athlete currently enrolled in a program slated for elimination, Wagner said.

Strict evaluations and an analysis of the cost to benefit ratio will be made before any decisions are made, according to the Senate document.

Cost efficiencies in all areas are being considered, Wesse said.

Kelley Hartley Hutton, the athletic director, was unable to comment.