Athletic Workgroup discusses data

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

Workgroup no. 4, focusing on intercollegiate athletics, spoke with Jim Davis, the faculty athletics representative for Eastern, about data they could use when researching athletics for the vitalization project.

Davis brought up exit interview data conducted with graduating athletes.

Exit interviews are conducted through an online survey with all the seniors in three parts, fall summer and spring, and then randomly select half of these athletes to have a face-to-face interview.

During the interview there are three faculty members, one student and someone from the athletic administration present.

For the last couple years, Davis said, the comments have not been as positive as they once were.

“I would say the last couple of years have been different from my previous experience,” Davis said.

However, if the group were to go through the books from past years and interviews, they would find negative comments as well.

Davis called this all “a sign of the times.”

“Reduced resources, reduced coaching staffs, reduced training staffs,” Davis said.

Year after year, Davis said, facilities has always been an issue that comes up in exit interviews.

“If it’s weight room, locker room, whatever, and it’s fairly consistent,” Davis said. “That’s obviously a concern, from my view it’s a safety issue.”

He said athletes experiences may have not been what they expected from a Division I institution.

Steve Rich, assistant vice president for advances, said the university needs the resources for facilities and to support student athletes.

Chemistry professor Dan Sheeran asked if athletics was staying in budget.

Davis said the board reviewed a budget, but most people on the board do not have the expertise to look at or analyze the budget.

They do get a report three times a year on progress on the budget.

“We try to improve that over time,” Davis said.  “We don’t approve the budget, we don’t do anything like that.”

Davis said when it comes to the budget, for athletics, money comes in at different times.

“You never know if it’s in the red, there’s money coming you just don’t see that until the end,” Davis said.

He said he shows the budget information to faculty senate, and anyone else who wants to see it. Davis said there are underlying issues to cutting sports because of Title 9 regulations.

“If we do that, you have to make sure everything is in place, Title 0 compliant,” Davis said. “And you’re losing students at a time we’re already down. That’s a tough decision.”

For other data, the group is also asking feedback from coaches, community members, student athletes, and others as well as looking at the expenses of different athletic aspects.

Workgroup chair Tami Babbs, assistant comptroller, said they were trying to keep an eye on what athletics is spending.

Babbs said she has not seen anyone’s recommendations as of yet, though she thinks that facilities are probably coming up as an issue during many Workgroup meetings.

She said at this point, she does not know if this in an area the group will touch on in their report, but there is Workgroup no. 5 which deals specifically with facilities.   The Workgroup is expected to have a rough draft of what they think on Friday and a finalized version on Monday. Their preliminary report is due Tuesday, and will be forwarded to the president, the vice presidents and unit leaders for further review.

Final recommendations are due Thursday, Dec.15.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]