Editorial: University athletics should be funded by university

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When a university's athletic programs do well, it not only reflects well on the student athletes, but on the campus community as a whole. Calgary is the fifth-largest city in Canada and there's no reason why its university--and their sports teams--shouldn't also be in the top five. There are a number of ways athletic teams succeed, but one that cannot be denied is funding.

It is hard to compare funding structures for university athletic programs throughout Canada due to widely different models and types of programs offered. Some schools are mostly funded by students, others by their central administration, some by outside sources, and yet others have a combination of the three.

More simply, Canada's schools can be broken down into three tiers. In the first tier are two of the U of C's closest rivals. the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta. At UBC, funding is closely split between the student levy and central administration--they have the largest endowment of any Canadian university--as well as strong alumni support. Although it cannot be entirely attributed to funding, UBC and U of A, both top-tier schools, have two of the most decorated programs in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

The third tier is where the University of Winnipeg fits in, a school that only offers its athletes men's and women's basketball and volleyball.

The U of C is a tier-two school, and is largely student-funded. Approximately 70 per cent of funds are provided by students through a levy, leaving 30 per cent to be split between administration, self-generated funding such as games, programs like summer camps and sponsorship from alumni or outside sources.

The U of C has just announced they will keep women's volleyball coach Kevin Boyles on as their interim sports director for the next year. Boyles comes from a program that has had seven top four national finishes in a row, and is looking to raise all Dinos teams to the same calibre. He has publicly said that funding is an issue at the U of C, although noting that the U of C's teams did extremely well this year, despite the funding hurdles.

Kinesiology dean Wayne Giles noted he doesn't have a great comparative model--he's working on developing one now--but isn't satisfied with the current level of funding at the U of C.

The U of C's central administration has taken a step in the right direction by hinting that they might increase funding to the women's hockey team if they are accepted back into the CIS in 2009.

Not only do the Dinos have a motivated leader to drive them with Boyles, but with a little extra support--that should come from administration and not directly from students--we could see our teams reach the level of UBC, raising the repute of our school. By achieving success in our sports teams, we not only raise the value of our degrees, by both increased positive name recognition and by strengthening the campus community through getting more students out to games. Successful athletics helps combat the lack of "engagement"--a buzzword constantly rolling off the tongues of university administration--which can only be positive thing for our commuter school.