Fate of CEU athletics

Budget cuts may cut programs
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 11:23am

The College of Eastern Utah has an athletic department that is rich in history. Over the years, the athletic department has enticed many athletes to begin their collegiate careers in Price. Could this be the last year of some, or all, of CEU's athletic programs? To many students, faculty, and CEU spectators, this question seems both dangerous and depressing. This question is the product of two proceedings that CEU is actively involved in: the merger with Utah State University, and the budget cuts the college is making.

One such question, tied directly to the complications within the merger, is being asked about the potential barrier that is presented with NCAA and NJCAA rules. In other words, some have speculated that there would be a conflict between Division I and Junior College procedural rules that would disallow CEU to continue their athletic programs.

USU's athletic director, Scott Barnes cleared up this issue stating that each institution would continue their athletic programs as they are now. He said, "In talking with the NCAA, CEU may continue its athletic program. However, with regard to NCAA rules, USU must continue to view the student athletes at CEU as prospects. As such, a continued separation of all aspects of our two programs is mandatory."

Further clarifying this concern, CEU's athletic director, Dave Paur, mentioned that he had spoken directly with Maryellen Leicht, executive director of the NJCAA. She also stated that there are no problems with the merger as long as there is an athletic director at each school and also that the budgets remain separate.

Leicht used the example of the University of Wisconsin. There are 11 two-year colleges with athletic programs under the U of W: Baraboulsauk County, Barron County, Fox Valley, Mantowoc, Marshfield-wood, Richland, Sheboygan, Marinette County, Waukeche, Rock County, Marathon County and Washington.

Paur also uttered positive reinforcement by quoting USU's President, Stan Albrecht, as saying he had no intention of removing CEU athletics.

With the merger issue out of the picture, the fate of the athletic programs at CEU is in the hands of the administration and what they do with budget cuts.

Last year the athletic department cut $43,000, but limited those cuts in operating expenses. Paur said he didn't know how much the athletic department was going to be cut, but said this time the cuts will most likely be with personnel and programs.

Although CEU is trying to weather the current economic harassments, Paur also presented some profitable business approaches that are the result of the athletic programs. First of all, CEU will be hosting the regional basketball tournament this year. He estimates that the tournament will bring in between $450,000 and $500,000 from tickets and concessions. That rough estimate doesn't account for the money it would bring to the community through hotel accommodations, dining, and all other expenses from those that attend the tournament.

Secondly, he said that Snow College claims that with every student that goes to the school, on average they bring 2-3 more people with them. Paur said he couldn't prove that, but pointed out that the NCAA did a study and can document these numbers. So not only does the school get enrollment from athletes, but also from those the athletes bring with them. It is from this same concept that some colleges are actually adding athletic programs in these strenuous economic times.

The official decisions regarding these cuts won't be settled until December. Whenever jobs are in jeopardy, there are lives and families that are in danger. The overall hope should be that the least amount of people will be affected.

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