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Seahawk Club members speak out on proposed cuts

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WILMINGTON, NC. (WWAY) -- UNCW Athletics is still reacting to a committee’s recommendation to cut five athletic programs and the idea has caught the attention of some boosters.

Many club members have told WWAY reporters that while they understand the idea, they don’t necessarily agree with it.

Since 2009 the university claims it has used up 82% of the athletic department’s reserve budget.

In the past the school has depended on Seahawk Club donations to support its athletic programs, but as of May 1st the club had only met 44% of its annual goal.

One longtime Seahawk Club member says he knows why.

"In my opinion a lot of the short comings that have fallen on the program is that we don't go after enough corporate sponsors," said DJ Urban, a UNCW alum and Seahawk Club member. "You see little things here in there in Trask or in the program, or commercials when you're listening to the coaches show but we have some giant players here in town and I don't think we get enough corporate donations."

Urban and other Seahawk Club members told WWAY off camera that the athletic department depends on the success of its basketball program, but that it wasn't time for the school to fire coach Buzz Peterson despite his poor record.

"I think it really all starts with basketball," Urban said. "You like to see all of the programs thrive, and you would like to see all of those athletes get to enjoy the college experience, but basketball is what really brings the money in. You've got to turn that program around first."

In a statement the university says the money saved by cutting men's and women's swimming and diving, men's cross country, men's indoor track and softball would be re-invested into the remaining programs.

Many boosters also said that the problems facing the athletic department now are leftover from previous administrations.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Just for clarity sake

12,000 undergraduate students pay fees.
283 are going to be in the recommended sports program portfolio.
A few hundred students/faculty/alumni protested yesterday.

100% of the student population support, in a mandatory fashion(through fee charges), a non-educational program for 2% of the student body.

I know college sports lose money and that UNCW has no TV rights or revenues.
I also know that we have a championship caliber swim team.
Potentially a championship caliber baseball team and so on.

This sucks, it really does - and it's obvious that if we cut some sports the alumni that used to play those particular sports will be upset. They say in a nutshell "cut any sport but mine."
Then offer no, or very few, alternatives or money saving ideas.
I also understand that some students came to UNCW because of a particular sport or scholarship program.
But we all need to remember that sports cost, and cost big. The main costs are coaches salaries and travel.
The ULTIMATE money saving idea is this:
Immediately suspend all sports, but:
A - allow the transfer of the student and scholarship monies to any other UNC school that has that sport in it.
B - if there is no other UNC system school with a comparable sport then allow that student to remain at UNCW and PAY the scholarship as if that student were still playing that sport.
This is not a satisfactory answer to the problem, and I know it - but it is the only fair solution. It allows for the continuation of the education (which is the primary goal of the University) and allows for the immediate savings of coaching salaries and travel. Costs for scholarships would decline rapidly over the next 4 years.

This of course would need approval of the UNC Board of Governors, and the Legislature as it would involve moving state monies around the already approved University budgets.
But I will tell you this. THIS Legislature, and THIS Governor would see the enormity of the potential money savings and would probably pour money into the academic endeavors of UNCW and all other colleges that they could apply this to. I suspect they would look hard at UNC Pembroke, Asheville, Central and a couple of others for sports programs elimination.
Right or wrong - it could happen, and it will happen UNLESS the sniping and and fist slamming stops by the boosters and alumni and they come together with a means, and suggestions, to reduce the costs, increase the revenues and eliminate the numbers and variety of sports here.
So far, at least on this forum, it has not happened. They are hoping, somehow, that Gary can save ALL sports (especially their own favorite sports). No one is making the hard decisions.

Vog

Easy Way Out

This report sounds like to me that they took the easy way out. There are so MANY ways that UNCW Athletics could save money and cut their budget besides cutting sports. They should start by looking at the additional staff they have in the department. Second, they really should look at what Men's Basketball spends and how they waste money like they have an endless budget. They have this since of entitlement that UNCW owes them anything and everything because they are Men's Basketball. Example of this is when not one single player from Men's Basketball showed up for the meeting with the committee. The one sport that seems to have the most money spent on them seems to be one of the least productive and seems to stay in the most trouble. They need to start at the top of the basketball team. Why do we continue to allow them to do this when they don't win or succeed. So the sports that work extra hard, make the grades and win are the ones that get cut. What part of this makes logical sense.

Guest9600

I agree but basketball has a cost of $1.6M
Over $600K is tied up between Coach Peterson's salary and just one of his assistants - yet the B+A groups want to keep him as a way top attract high quality players to UNCW.
I'm not so sure this is the right attitude.
Men's basketball is a very expensive program to keep going partially because of the salaries.....
It is also one of the most popular sports they have...

Vog

There are

11,743 undergraduate students at UNCW
400 play team sports - soon to be 283.

The lunacy in spending, shown by the sports department, is only exceeded by non-support of the A+B groups.

Vog

The link

That says it all:
http://www.uncw.edu/iarc/documents/UNCWIARC_Recommendations.pdf

Page 17 Appendix A
9 Mens sports teams
10 ladies
182 male team members with a budget of $3,730,142
218 female members with a budget of $3,271,393

By my figuring that is
400 students costing $7,001,535
or approximately $17,503 - per student athlete

The PROPOSED cuts leave:
6 Mens teams with 120 athletes costing $3,458,539
8 womens teams with 163 athletes costing $2,652,154
totals:
283 students costing $6,110,693
or, approximately $21,592 - per student athlete

If this committee were employed in the private sector?
They would be FIRED
They cut $890,842 or 12%
But increased per student costs.
Sports is big business - and bad business for UNCW.
Everyone - Administrators, Directors, Coaches, Boosters and Alumni should be embarrassed, no ASHAMED, that the deification of the student athlete has resulted in such fiscal outrageous-ness.
If I were a freshman non-athlete at UNCW I would find an attorney and ask for my student fees back.

Vog

Oh Shut Up already

Everyone who romanticizes sports and the hard work and dedication of the student athletes.
I get it.
I played on teams
You are acting foolish. The Universities budget had been cut 3 years in a row.
Anyone who thinks sports should be maintained in that type of cost cutting environment needs to go back to school and take Econ 101.
Chef (below) is right.
Education IS the number one Priority at UNCW - NOT sports.
Stop romanticizing the sports program, the athletes and the coaches and the CAA.
UNCW is a second rate athletic school in a third rate conference with boosters and alumni who have turned their backs on them.
It's a shame to lose some sports - but GROW UP. Donate more money! Put your money where your mouth is.
I know that University level sports lose money - but when your basketball team - the "pride" of the University - loses 3 TIMES what they take in? That's pathetic. When attendance at our Champions Swim meets are less than 100 people? THAT'S PATHETIC.
Boosters? Alumni? You didn't even come close. You're an embarrassment to the community. Step up to the plate.
Either donate heavily to rescue your favorite sports programs or RECOMMEND which sports to cut. Man up, or SHUT UP.
But stop with this "Sports builds character". "the student athlete learns to juggle schedules, family and friends". We're talking money here - in the face of budget cuts. It's only fitting that sports be cut along with other things.
Good grief
Vog

Wow. A bit harsh, don't you

Wow. A bit harsh, don't you think? While you certainly make some valid points your missing a few crucial components to your argument. It's clear the booster club has not followed through on promises and that needs to change. However, you seem to be missing the biggest point that you, yourself pointed out, education. There are numerous students (many out of state)who would be unable to attend the university without the aid from the Athletic Department for their team sport (Grant –in-Aid) or from a donor to the Athletic Scholarship funds. What may I ask do you propose those students do? Obviously, there are things that need to change because you're right basic economics dictates programs cannot exist without money. You must realize however, that there are many other avenues the school can go through to tighten the belt on their expenses and save these programs. While again, you're correct student athletics are not the most important part of a university it does however add a cohesiveness to a school and helps to create a productive campus community. There literally are journal articles written on the draw athletics bring for prospective students and as well as its aid to creating a productive and respected campus.

Anna

One more point, if I may. You said:
"There literally are journal articles written on the draw athletics bring for prospective students and as well as its aid to creating a productive and respected campus."
I would rather the campus attract more intellectuals to the campus then three point shooters. I'd be more proud if a grad from UNCW discovered a new fish species than I would of someone becoming a point guard for the New York Knicks.

"While again, you're correct student athletics are not the most important part of a university it does however add a cohesiveness to a school and helps to create a productive campus community."
You are the problem Anna - don't you see?
"You must realize however, that there are many other avenues the school can go through to tighten the belt on their expenses and save these programs"
WHAT CUTS??? you speak in generalities be specific.
Our sports programs DEPEND on student FEES from ALL Students. They are increasing the distribution of those fees to the sports programs. This is like the Federal reserve just printing more money.
You're tapped out
You've gone to the bank (student fees) once too often.
You are now over drawn on your account.
Make the call Anna. Without ANY increase in student fees or any increase in distribution. SAVE THE SPORTS PROGRAMS.
Here's an exercize for you.
Give us two sports for each sex that we should save at all costs then list the ones that "could" go away. Base your answer on popularity ONLY because it's obvious the Boosters and Alunmni don't give a damn about how much they lose
I'll start
Mens basketball
Mens baseball
Womens basketball
Womens softball

Start there - pour ALL existing fees into those 4 programs and then if (a big if) you have money left over then save other sports.
The problem is you can't because at some point you'll PO an alumnus or booster who "remembers the days on the BB team" or what have you.
That thought process no longer applies.
But stop with the cohesiveness arguments - stop with the student athletes showing courage to juggle schedules and priorities.
The sports program is DOOMED if "feel good" athletics is let to go on.
Its doomed if they expect all students to continue pouring money down a bottomless pit.
I say start with those 4 and watch the show start. They'll be gnashing of teeth, pointing of fingers and plenty of blame to go around - and NOTHING will get done. This is typical UNCW sports BS - blame everyone else but yourselves.
But do NOT take any more $ from student fees.
Vog

Anna-

Yes I was harsh- why?
Sure there are other things they could cut.
Like cut the crap.
I've heard various excuses from both Boosters and Alumni and they center around politicizing the athletic department. DePaulo "using" the athletic department, and various other things.
In every one A+B (Alumni and Boosters) point their fingers everywhere but where they belong - ON THEM.
They want sports no doubt but they want an enormous chuck of student fees to pay for it - that is socializing the loss.
Here's what the committee should do. List by sport how much each sport costs the U. As I pointed out, basketball - the flagship sport has expenses of $16M and revenues of $545,000. The cost is outrageous of course and 3 times the revenue generated.
No one from A+B has suggested INCREASING donating - why?
It is because the easy way is to gather more student fees - "Don't worry no one will say anything", "there's loads of undergrads they won't notice".
Sorry this doesn't cut it with me.
I want A+B to come up with the sports THEY'D accept for cutting - because its obvious they don't want to increase their giving . They went to the well once too often for my liking so yes I was harsh.
In the mean time, it's grossly unfair to infer that non athletes are not taught the same lessons as athletes, because they're not on a team, or haven't had to juggle school, sports, social life - which is what a few have suggested.
I say cut basketball, for both sexes.
Then lets see how A+B react? If they con't come to the rescue? Then cut mens baseball and women's softball. Lets cut until A+B come back to the table.
I know that sports LOSE money but they sould not lose as much as UNCW sports does.
If we can't get A+B to increase fund raising?
Eliminate ALL sports and let student fees DROP by HUNDREDS of dollars per semester.
Vog

With some logic, I just

With some logic, I just wonder how non-athletes ever got their character built. I guess all mothers were athletes at some points in their lives since they know how to juggle schedules, family and friends. That goes for anyone who never did an athletic thing outside of required gym class.

Priorities

UNCW: An institution that spent $85,000 on an installation party a year ago for Gary Miller, its new Chancellor ($275,000 a year), and currently rewards basketball coach Buzz Peterson in excess of $400,000 a year for failure ( almost twice what he had been making). They also had, as of last year, over 150 employees making in excess of $150,000 a year and are notorious for being top heavy in management positions. As an alum (and I’m not), I would certainly think twice before throwing money down into that bottomless money hole. That’s throwing good money after bad.

Now they want to cut student sport programs. With all of the money they’re wasting I can certainly see why they have to do that. I doesn’t make it right though.

A university is supposed to be about the students. This particular one is starting to look like a scam for an elitist select few to line their own pockets. That most certainly is not right.

No No NO

The problem is the COST of all sports.
Basketball takes in $540,000 but has expenses of $1.6 Million. Petersons salary alone is $420,000 plus the $100K for the sports show then the new Asst Coach from UNC Asheville is making $125K. Over $600K for just 2 guys.

Sorry but salaries for Basketball coaches is NOT one of the problems as outlined by the committee.

Vog

Vog, Universities nationwide

Vog, Universities nationwide have affirmed time and time again that athletics is a central theme in academic life. Universities use athletics as a learning vehicle, an academic experience, and a way to connect to the community and the alumni. Athletes sign a code of conduct because they are ambassadors/representatives of the University to the community and alumni---so you cannot separate them from the goals of the teaching experience. Your vision and position are at odds with reality and Universities nationwide clearly disagree. Also, last time I checked strong-student athletes are continuously lauded by this and other administrations. Swimmers having high GPAs, and both UNCW swimming and diving teams are historic repeat CSCAA Scholar All American Teams--they are also winners who somehow manage to compete in conference championships, unlike some other campus teams. Read the committee's report more critically. The budget shortfall is primary due to failure to fund raise--because the organization is in disarray with inconsistent policies, lack of attention to constitutes desires and details, poor leadership, compromised relationships, poor outreach to the community and a critical need to rebuild fundraising relationships that are sensitive to constitute expectations. The budget shortfall is also mostly covered by a 1.2 million dollar increase in student fees which make up about $7.3/11.5 budget. The programs are being dissolved to repurpose $800,000 (mostly unspecified). They aren’t cutting to save money. Thus, this money is being repurposed mostly to basketball to save two jobs (the AD and basketball coach), whose jobs are clearly on the line if the program doesn't reverse its downward spiral. They think it will reverse their recruiting woes, reverse losing records and save their jobs. But wait, Florida Gulf Coast basketball has achieved prominent success even though total coaching salaries are less than ~$175,000/yr, a program supported by a limited numbers of scholarships, and an Alico Arena that seats only 4,500 fans. Wake up, coaching excellence is what success is all about. Don't kill success and throw good money after bad. Pay attention.

Really?

More corporate sponsors? Sorry, charity begins at home - from alumni and Seahawk Club members. As the basketball program has tumbled, so have the ranks, and donations, of the Seahawk Club. Call them fair-weather fans, but now their lack of philanthropy will hurt all the athletes, not just their prized basketball program.

Guest6687

Exactly. If the Boosters and Alumni are so upset whey not increase their donations?
Why are we directing MORE of student fees toward athletics which have less than 2% of the student population taking part in? This is socialism and has no business on a college campus.
I'e heard excuse after excuse
"Oh we didn't like what Rosie did to the program"
"Oh there were politics being played"

Vog calls BS on this one. Yes I donate to my alma mater and I hope to continue to do so.
But its time that UNCW and the boosters and alumni put aside their differences and GIVE to sustain the sports programs. You can put out all the stuff you want about student athletes being ambassadors, and that they maintain good GPA's and all that stuff - but if you don't teach this lesson now these kids will grow up thinking deficit spending is OK because someone will bail you out. We need these program cuts and even more.
The answer is NOT to charge fees to all students for the benefit of the few - we need to increase donations from boosters, alumni and the community. Charge increased admissions raise concession pricing and yes get corporate sponsorships but STOP with the excuses - STOP with the romanticizing of the program, and STOP politicizing the sports programs. Many of these kids were not here for DePaolo and Brownell.
Any alumni are booster that stopped donating because of them are worthless supporters of the Unversity.
Grow up. I'd rather see these student athletes see what is required to live within their means and to prioritize their college lives. Academics first and foremost - sports second, social life third.

Vog

uncw Swimming

Here are some of our concerns:

1. This decision was made by a group of people that were brought together to give their recommendations. Out of that group, there were student athletes on this panel. From what I understand, only tennis and volleyball were represented for all student athletes. I can understand getting input, but to have them speak for the other sports that they have no knowledge about and Be able to have any say on who is eliminated is a conflict of interest. As the outcome shows, neither tennis nor volleyball are listed for possible elimination. Their ability to be unbiased is clouded by their own participation in these sports, they should have recused themselves unless there was representation from every sport that could be affected. Should teams representing about 30 students make A determination of 2 teams of 120 students?

2. As many have mentioned, this decision could potentially affect the whole university due to losing the out of state tuition that many parents and students are paying. When our daughter decided on uncw, we chose it for the swim team. We are from Georgia and she could have gone to school here for less than 1/3 the tuition that we are paying now. We decided to invest in her and in the school because of the swim team.

3. Other swim teams such as clemson and Maryland phased out their programs giving their Athletes time to make decisions affecting their futures If the swim team is cut this year, the chancellor needs to understand ALL affected financial ramifications to their decision to Eliminate these teams beginning this August.

Many of us have signed contracts on apartments or houses for the next year. We will now be responsible for broken contracts and additional fees if we decide to leave and swim somewhere else. Had there been prior knowledge of this possibility, we would not have signed until we had certainty about the future.

Most swim teams already have their teams full for the upcoming season and their scholarship monies have been allotted. To try and transfer at this late date, would Be extremely difficult and burdensome for students and parents alike. While they were generous in their offer to swimmers, most of the kids came to swim which they would have to give up to stay. As we know, even one semester out of the pool without proper coaching will make it extremely difficult to be competitive at the college level.

New recruits signed as early as last November to go here. When they committed, they had to cut off all communication With other swim teams by NCAA standards. Now those other schools have moved on and signed other people. Students have to be loyal, but according to what we have learned, it seems schools have no obligations? Has anyone talked to the NCAA?

If a student chooses to transfer to another school with a swim team, there are credits hours that are not transferrable from one school to another, so courses will have to be re-taken.

So those credit hours that many of us have paid for with out of state prices were for nothing. We would have to pay out additional monies for the same courses. They have to re-take these classes and possibly go additional semesters to graduate which means additional funds.

These are just a few of the many concerns that we all find ourselves faced with at this time. If they are making this decision based on finances only, then here are some of our real financial facts. We love and are committed to uncw's success and We hope these points are taken into consideration.

affected parent

I appreciate your letter and you raised a very valid point IMHO.
Therefore 'Ol Vog proposes that all sports be phased out from UNCW within the next 4 years.
Monies saved should be put towards increasing academic scholarships to make up for the loss of the student athletes.

One point.
I believe UNCW turns away students now if I'm not mistaken.
So making up that loss should be easy.

Vog