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USU-Eastern athletics budget lowest in state, SWAC conference

October 2nd, 2011 Posted in Sports

By David Osborne Jr.
Sports Editor
Special to The Hard News Café from The Eagle, USU-Eastern

PRICE, Utah—Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah has a rich history of athletic achievement, from the baseball diamond to the basketball court.

Eagles teams have competed for championships, (men’s basketball was third in the nation in 2009), boasted All-Americans, and has sent many athletes on to Division I schools.

However, with all of that excellence, the USU-Eastern athletic department has a meager budget for an athletic program that is in the nation’s premier junior college conference. Eastern’s athletics budget is the lowest among Utah public colleges and universities, and the lowest in the Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC), compared to other conference schools competing in volleyball, baseball and both men’s and women’s basketball.

Eagles Athletic Director Dave Paur’s 2010-2011 budget was $665,428. That amount was used for many different things, including scholarships for student-athletes, which can include full tuition, housing, a meal plan and books; travel for away games, which often includes overnight accommodations, food and gas to get the team to places as far as Northern Idaho College (a 17-hour bus ride); and recruiting trips to get high school athletes to choose USU-Eastern and put on an Eagles jersey.

The athletic program budget isn’t an exact reflection of competitiveness—Coach Brad Barton’s men’s basketball teams have had a better record in the SWAC than any other team. The men’s basketball teams have finished second the past two seasons, and also finished third in the nation two years ago.

Despite the lack of funding for sports at Eastern, all teams remain competitive even though always creating ways to raise money. Eagles baseball runs its recruiting budget on $0. “It’s very difficult to recruit against schools with recruiting budgets,” said assistant baseball coach KC Smurthwaite. “A lot of schools are starting to allocate student fee money to help build recruiting funds.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah State—Eastern has the lowest amount of student fees set aside for athletics in the state: $20 per student.

Not only is Eastern last of the state colleges in terms of athletic funding, but is $22 off Snow College, the next nearest school. Conference rival Salt Lake Community College sits at $60 in student fees for athletics.

Many conference teams receive double or even triple as much as Eastern to help supplement their athletic budgets. The College of Southern Idaho, for example, had a budget of $3,014,442—about four-and-a-half times USU-Eastern. CSI competes in two extra sports, rodeo and softball. Snow College, our neighbor across the mountains to the west, had a budget of $1,638,755. Snow does not play baseball, but they compete in football and softball.

SLCC’s budget was $1,547,085. SLCC competes in all of the same sports plus softball, yet they still receive more than twice Eastern’s athletic budget. Even Colorado Northwestern Community College has a larger athletic budget: $825,475.

It has also been reported that CNCC President Russell George has said that their athletic budget will be substantially increased to help make their athletics program more competitive.

Here at Eastern, if Paur can run a competitve and even winning sports program on this meager budget, what would be possible if a larger budget were in line for USU-Eastern’s athletic department?  Perhaps more sports could be added to the athletic department, including softball, football or soccer.

Student athletic fees at Utah campuses:
USU: $246
UVU: $214
UofU: $152
Weber: $127
Dixie: $115
SUU: $104
SLCC: $60
Snow: $42
USU-Eastern: $20


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