Athletics Workgroup looks at information

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

Workgroup No. 4, charged with looking at Intercollegiate Athletics, looked at data from other schools and talked about topics that have come up when talking to different athletic areas during a meeting Thursday.

One piece of information the group looked at was the different sports schools had in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Workgroup chair Tami Babbs, assistant comptroller, said the group was just trying to see how many sports each of the other schools in the OVC have.

She said seeing how many they have and comparing that to Eastern will give the university an idea if they are giving student-athletes the right experiences as a Division I institution.

The workgroup also wanted to see if the budgets are comparable.

“Do they have the same number of sports, do they have the same number of dollars?” Babbs said. “Are we way low or way high?”

However, they were not able to find that budget data. Steve Rich, assistant vice president of advancement, said he was trying to find this information.

“We are still looking,” Babbs said.

The workgroup has been conducting different interviews with students, athletes, coaches and planning ones with alumni, donors and community members.

Two topics that have come up in these athletic interviews are facilities and marketing.

“We are just asking the questions of are the facilities where they need to be?” Babbs said.

She said they were told that athletics have what they need to win and they understand the budget is a challenge.

“If there is a challenge in the budget, we can’t fix the weight room, do something in facilities,” Babbs said.

Rich said the facilities athletics uses are also shared with the kinesiology and sports studies department.

“They both have access,” Rich said. “There are very few facilities that belong to athletics.”

He added that people in the community go to O’Brien Field to walk around and that classes are held in Lantz Fieldhouse.

The group also talked to athletic media relations about if there needs to be a connection between athletic and academic marketing as well as admissions.

Part of this connection involves getting increased attendance at games or getting students to feel included whether it is as a spectator or in a more active role, such as intramural sports.

“We’re EIU as a whole; we want to present it as a whole,” Babbs said. “Everybody should be doing their part to market it.”

The workgroup asked if when talking about facilities or marketing, this would apply to other workgroups who are already working on these topics. Babbs said she was not that concerned with an overlap, as they can touch base with the facilities, marketing and other workgroups, and give their feedback as well so they can reiterate to Eastern President David Glassman that these items are of concern to many different areas.

“Since that’s now our area, we just want to share it with other areas,” Babbs said.

Babbs said her main concern now was the timeline.

The preliminary recommendations the group makes are due Nov.1.

By next Friday, they planned to have rough drafts put together and the recommendations on Monday.

Babbs said they did not yet know what the recommendations would look like, as they have been conducting interviews in separate pairs and still need to look at everybody’s information.

The workgroup made plans to continue talking to people, including alumni and donors who visit during Homecoming weekend.

Babbs said so far, the students she has talked to have positive experiences in athletics and academics.

While the budget has been a concern, she said it has been this way for many areas.

“It’s not just athletics,” she said. “It’s just the budget crunch.”
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]