Is the college’s athletics program worth it?

Athletics program is self sufficient

by Ivan Delgado
Staff Reporter

College of the Desert football team. (College of the Desert/Courtesy Photo)

There is a lot of value that students can gain from their participation in athletics including team-building, leadership development, and academic discipline. However, in a time of unprecedented budget crisis affecting the college, in a time when classes are being cut, should everything be looked at?

It turns out, everything is being looked at. So far, 129 items have been reviewed by the College Planning Council (CPC), which is looking into how much is being spent on athletics, as well as staffing structures, parking fees, and activities, to try and balance the budget.

According to Adrian Gonzalez, dean of student support program and services, there has been discussion about the cost of the college’s athletics program, but the results of that discussion are to be turned in to the CPC, and will be made public in February. As of this writing, no recommendation have been made by the Co-Curricular Think Tank regarding the athletics program.

In a time of economic crisis, and classes being cut with more students being turned away each year, how has the athletics program managed to stay afloat when $60,000 worth of cuts have already been made?

One answer is the football team’s self-sufficiency. Out-of-state students coming to COD pay higher fees in order to remain on campus. “There are a lot of student athletes that are from out-of-state, so they are paying more money to this college team to take classes here,” said Gonzalez.

Students coming in from out-of-state, whose fees are dramatically higher than those who are native to the valley, generate a majority of the athletics program’s budget. The reason being, is that this money does not go to the state, it goes directly to the school.

According to Dean Dowty, interim coordinator of the athletics program, in a program consisting of 400 students, 50-60 athletic students ranging from international to nationwide, contribute up to $350,000 in fees. The athletics program works with a budget of $800,000, so almost half of the program’s budget is derived from students who are not from the valley.

Dowty specified that the athletics budget employs close to 50 people, on a budget that would cost three or four full-time instructors. On average, a coach is paid less than $5,000 a year.

What do students think about when athletics comes to mind? For student-athletes themselves, sports come in second to academics.

“What’s interesting about student athletes is that they have to take a certain number of units to even be eligible, and maintain a solid GPA just to be eligible to play,” said Gonzalez. “Compared to the broader group of students, student athletes tend to have a pretty decent GPA.”

Unlike co-curricular classes where students sign up, athletics maintains strict rules that students have to follow. “In athletics, there is a very specific academic achievement that has to be going on at all times to be a part of it,” said Dowty.

“Students have to be taking a minimum of 12 units per semester, with a minimum of nine transferable credits,” said Dowty.

The athletic department is projected to provide 15-20 full scholarships and millions of dollars in scholarship money.

The COD Roadrunner football team started off hot, winning four of its first five games of the season. Unfortunately, the Roadrunners were not able to keep pace, losing three of the remaining five games on the schedule, all to teams that were playoff bound.

For the team as a whole, the year has not been easy. One teammate was stabbed, off the field.  And then the team had to endure several close games with anything but happy endings.  Through it all though, players were able to keep their poise and finish out the season.

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