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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Club sports deal brokered

Published: March 2, 2007
Section: News

The Student Union announced February 15 that a decision had been made to create a Club Sports Program under the auspices of the Athletics Department. This arrangement, if passed by the Board of Trustees in March, will end nearly two years of negotiations.

The biggest theme [has been] adding support for club sports, and not just financially, said Union Director of Executive Affairs Adam Gartner 09. Were talking using the facilities, storage spaceits all different things were getting support for.

The arrangement would split the payments for Club Sports, with the Finance Board contributing approximately $100,000 and the Athletics Department contributing approximately $140,000, and would install a Club Sports Council comprised of many of the team leaders. Furthermore, if the plan was accepted, the Athletics Department would hire a new staff member as Club Sports Coordinator.

Gartner explained that in the spring of 2006, the Union worked primarily on think[ing] about the details, about what this program should look like. Meanwhile, in the fall of that year, the Union worked on funding we spent the whole semester working on that because it was clear there would have to be [Student Activities Fund (SAF) resources] involved. When the funding was agreed upon in November, further negotiations and alterations were halted due to the winter break;

finally, after several meetings between the Union and the Athletics Department, the proposal was agreed upon February 13.

Budget Director for Students and Enrollment Keenyn McFarlane added that the new proposal would provide some structure that was lacking for Club Sports teams. The proposal would circumvent potential issues of liability, including transportation and better access to facilities and practice fields: If you practice on a real field, he said, the possibility of tripping over a rock and doing some real damage is less likely.

When asked about whether the sharing of resources would affect sports at the Varsity level, Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa said that I am not anticipating any negative affects on varsity teams with the addition of club sports to Athletics. I hope that varsity teams will be positively impacted because as club sport athletes become a part of the larger family of Athletics that we will see student-athletes, varsity and club, supporting each other's home contests.

This proposal, however, does not cover all 43 club sports organizations. Gartner added that because due to limited resources, you cant take all 43 clubs, the proposal will not include groups that are duplicated at the Varsity level. Thus, only 22 clubs will fall under the new program. Theyre still eligible to go to the Finance Board to request funds, added Gartner.

When asked about the Club Sports Council, Gartner said that the Union is not going to dictate to them what the council should look likeits up to the leaders of these club sports to decide what exact role the council is going to be and how it will go about its role.

McFarlane added that support from the Athletics Department would aid the teams by giving them a psychological edge: Its that sort of intangible benefit that benefits everybody. Youll have the crew team wearing their uniformsBrandeis uniformsits the face of the university. He also said that its much more inspiring it will benefit the students in terms of their spirit, and it puts a better face on our schools activities.

Sousa added that since being appointed AD three years ago, one of my primary objectives has been to grow the recreational side of our program. Our intramural participation has more than doubled over that time. We have seen a lot of interest from the community in our group fitness classes. I think the addition of club sports as a directed program within Athletics is the next logical step in this evolution.

I think this is definitely very exciting that weve gotten this done, said Gartner. We think it's something thatll allow club sports to get the support they need to perform at the highest level.