College adds $30,000 to club sports budget

by Katy O'Donnell | 10/14/05 5:00am

Dartmouth will nearly double its institutional support for club sports teams this year with the addition of $30,000 to the club sports budget, Dean of the College James Larimore announced Thursday.

College President James Wright decided to allot the $30,000 from his discretionary budget as a short-term solution to the club sports funding problem. Larimore said he hopes the increase can be made permanent and incorporated into the College's budget for next year.

"The goal is to work out a longer-term solution," he said.

There are now 25 club sports teams at the College, 10 more than there were during the 1999-2000 academic year. Participation has also grown by 60 percent over the last six years, with club sports athletes now numbering 959.

The club sports budget has been struggling to meet the increasing funding needs of teams during their regular seasons, and successful teams have been forced to raise money or seek alumni donations to cover travel and lodging expenses for post-season tournaments.

Last year, 13 of these 25 clubs represented Dartmouth in intercollegiate competition, and seven teams participated in regional or national competitions. The figure skating team won its second consecutive national championship this past winter, and a number of the other teams have won eastern or regional titles.

"The spectacular success stories also explain club sports' dramatic and unpredictable funding needs for post-season travel," Larimore said.

As the club sports program has grown over recent years, Athletic Director Josie Harper has been discussing a potential increase in club sports funding with the Alumni Council Committee on Athletics and the Student Assembly, Larimore said.

Student Body President Noah Riner '06 said members of underfunded teams approached the Assembly as they grew frustrated with having to "beg for alumni donations."

"Concerned students started asking for the Assembly's help about two years ago," Riner said. "Mats Lemberger and I went before the Alumni Council last spring to talk about what is going on on campus, and we all agreed that club sports was an area of student life that was incredibly important, and it was being underfunded."

The funding increase could not come at a more opportune time, Larimore said.

"This year's additional allocations come at a time when travel costs are very likely to increase substantially during 2005-2006 due to the increasing cost of fuel and other transportation expenses," Larimore said.

Members of the women's water polo team look forward to funds that will help offset their travel costs, the team's captain, Allie Owens '06, said.

"We teach swim school for kids in the winter to raise money for the program," Owens said. "But it does make it more difficult to go to the tournaments and training trip when some of the expenses are falling directly on the students. We definitely appreciate an increase in funding for the club sports."

Other teams, however, feel that the $30,000 sum will likely do little to benefit their organizations when split among the College's 25 club teams.

Scott Penner '06, president of the men's rugby club, said the strides his team has made to build a new club house will affect their season more than a potential increase in their budget from the College.

"We are in a position where we are pretty self-sufficient because of our alumni support in the past. Our new club house puts us in a very professional, varsity atmosphere. That $3-million initiative will help us more than any small change in budgeting," Penner said.

Riner said he plans to meet with Harper next week to discuss the allocation of money to different teams.

Harper was unavailable for comment.