By Nick Bray & Andrew Devine, Staff Reporter; Contributing Writer
The UMF Student Senate recently approved a $14,700 amended proposal from the snowsports team to send up to seven athletes to the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championship at Mount Bachelor in Oregon this March. This amount is down from the original proposal, which was $25,000 and would have funded up to 10 athletes and their three coaches.
This proposal passed unanimously through the senate Financial Affairs Committee, where the proposal was then sent to the General Assembly for consideration. During a 90 minute discussion of the proposal, senators expressed their concern with the high price tag for the nationals request. Members of the snowsports team were in the audience to explain why they believe the proposal should be accepted.
The snowsports program consists of Alpine and Nordic ski teams, as well as a combined Freeski and Snowboard team. The team is considered a club sport, with varsity status. All three teams expect to send athletes to the national competition, which is why all three coaches need to travel to Oregon with the athletes. If athletes qualify, this would be the third time UMF has participated in USCSA nationals.
Even following the cost reduction the proposal is one of the largest in the history of the student senate. According to Kirsten Swan, who has been the advisor of student senate for 10 years, she cannot recall ever seeing any single request exceed $15,000. The snowsports proposal includes the cost of airfare, lodging and registration for each athlete who attends nationals. The cost per athlete is $2,100 and the cost per coach is $1,500. The club has fundraised to pay for athlete’s meals.
In addition to the overall cost of the proposal, senate was concerned about having enough funds to cover other expenses for the remainder of the semester. Due to overestimating enrollment, which determines funds raised by the student activity fee, the senate is left with a shortfall. This shortfall was addressed by transferring funds from the senate reserves into the operating account. These funds will be used to pay for the Leadership Banquet, Spring Fling, and proposals from other clubs.
After the tabling discussion of the proposal, senators met with administrators in the athletics to come up with a compromise in order to reduce the total proposal amount. Director of Athletics Julie Davis discovered $4,500 remaining from a grant which the university secured to jump start the ski team, which was reestablished about 10 years ago. “Part of accepting that grant was to find ways for the university to sustain support for the program,” Davis said. “Between the athletics department and the student senate, we have found ways to accomplish this.”
The $4,500 could be used to fund the coaches, with a balance of $21,000 to be funded by the senate. In a compromise, Senator Allison Bernier made a motion to amend the proposal from 10 athletes to seven athletes. This would be at a total cost of $14,700 to the senate. This amended proposal was unanimously approved.
Club Sports Commissioner Joseph Brichetto recognizes the given budget situation, but also doesn’t want to discredit the team’s accomplishments. “They have an opportunity they should take advantage of as they work hard,” Brichetto said. “At some point, you can’t please everybody. I think the resolution we came to will leave everybody slightly displeased but it was definitely the best call.”
After the decision to amend the proposal was finalized at the Senate meeting, Ski Team player Quinn Fogarty responded, “I think if we do qualify for nationals, we have the commitment to the school, the school should commit to us athletes as well.”
Senator Matt Lulofs, also an athlete on the Ski Team remarked, “I’m happy that the Student Senate decided to support us on this because obviously they could have given us no funds for it, we at least got something.”