Keene State Athletics hasn’t been immune to the recent budget cuts put in place across a number of departments at the college.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins, who oversees the athletics budget along with KSC Athletic Director Kristene Kelly, said that he and other members of the athletic department have been continuously examining the athletics budget over the course of the year to look for areas to better “align” spending with needs of the different athletic programs.
So far, Atkins said that the college has trimmed about $50,000 from the athletics budget.
The areas in which those cuts were made include money for equipment and supplies, travel and transportation, peridium for meals and others.
“We’re paying a lot of attention to [whether this] is this the best use of the resources that we have and those resources include money and…people’s time,” Atkins said.
The effects of those cuts have caused a few changes in the department, as well as in the different programs that it supports.
The cuts for travel, according Atkins, have made it more financially efficient for teams to use vans to transport them to away games at least twice throughout their seasons as opposed to the usual Coach Bus for every trip.
In addition, to cut down on travel costs, coaches have been asked to trim their schedule by at least one away game for next year’s seasons.
These games could be anything from scrimmages to invitationals to non-conference regular season games.
Furthermore, professional development for coaches and other staff members have been cut according to Atkins and Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ryan Cain lessening the number of conferences and other professional development opportunities to learn new techniques to further their coaching abilities.
However, Cain said that there are other ways to make up for that.
“There’s so many different ways where you can enhance yourself professionally, so rather than travelling to some big conference, there’s so many other ways you can do it. With getting on the internet, to meeting with other coaches in different areas–we don’t have to spend money to do things like that,” Cain said.
To supplement the funds lost in the cuts, fundraising efforts have increased, according to both Atkins and Cain, who said that they’ve been able to raise more money than usual at their events.
Atkins stated that the college has asked each team to raise at least $1,000 to help support themselves through a number of different fundraisers.
Along with that, the Annual Golf Tournament held for the athletic department raised over $31,000 and an additional $14,000 in calendar sales.
KSC student athletes have expressed their concern and unhappiness about the changes that have been made because of the Owls’ lighter wallet.
KSC junior and women’s soccer player Marianna Porcello said because of the smaller vans that have to be used and the large size of the team, not all the players on the women’s roster could travel with the team, leaving some players out of uniform and the bench shortened. She added that this brought about some challenges for her team during the season.
“There were definitely games where it was super hot or people were injured or people got hurt during the games and we didn’t have all of the subs there that we could’ve been using, but I think we just kind of dealt with it and did what we could and people stepped up and played different positions when they needed to,” Porcello said.
Furthermore, KSC senior and softball player Aliza Guerrero said that her team will not be able to travel with an athletic trainer when it makes it travels to Florida this year, a staff member they usually share with the KSC baseball team.
“Softball doesn’t get one per say, but the baseball team usually gets a trainer and this year they don’t. Even if we don’t play at the same complex or around the same area there’s still no one we could call in case of something serious,” Guerrero said.
The idea of a shortened season isn’t going over well with some players either.
Senior and member of the volleyball team Leslie Hearns said that it is unfair to cut the players season’s short.
“I think we come to this school to play the game that we love and we take time out of our days to be here and play the sport that we love. We should be able to play the amount of games we’re [usually] scheduled for,” Hearns said.
However, players said that the cuts haven’t directly affected their performance during competition or their overall willingness to play for the Owls.
Updates to the athletics budget will be made as new information is discovered.
Jacob Barret can be contacted at Jbarrett@kscequinox.com