Sports funding goes under the microscope

Janice Deakin and bob Crawford to conduct a review of athletics

Bob Crawford is the spokesperson for the review of Queen’s Athletics and Recreation.
Bob Crawford is the spokesperson for the review of Queen’s Athletics and Recreation.

From now until March 30, Queen’s administrators will be asking Queen’s students, staff and faculty
what they think should be the top priorities for the department of athletics and recreation.

Associate Vice-Principal and dean of Student Affairs Jason Laker has appointed Janice Deakin, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, and Bob Crawford, Professor in the School of Computing, to conduct a review of all aspects of the department of athletics and recreation from interuniversity teams to intramurals and instructional programs.

Laker said the approval of the university’s new Strategic Plan and the start of Queen’s Centre
construction made now the perfect time to review the department. Deakin and Crawford will meet
with coaches, athletes and students to discuss issues ranging from facilities and funding to leadership
and administration with a view to improving all the services provided by the athletics department.
Laker said a clear sense of direction is something that was missing from the athletics and recreation Program report, released in 2002. He said he hopes this review will be able to take the information and turn it into concrete steps for the future.

He also said he hopes to get diverse perspectives on each issue. “I just think people should know that we need to act on this, and therefore everyone should put their two cents in.”

Laker said appointing Crawford and deakin to conduct the review wasn’t a difficult decision. He said their combined backgrounds, including Crawford’s two terms as dean of student affairs, and deakin’s time as dean of Kinesiology and Health Studies (formerly Physical and Health education), made them
ideal candidates.

“Between the two of them they represent so many different perspectives of so many populations.”
Crawford said the report will look at the funding model for the University’s athletics teams. Currently, teams are classified as either interuniversity teams, interuniversity clubs or competitive clubs.

Both interuniversity teams and clubs compete in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league, but interuniversity teams receive full funding while interuniversity clubs are given a grant at the beginning of each season.

Competitive clubs compete in leagues outside the OUA. The report will try to come up with a set of criteria for determining how each sport should be classified.

He said the report should helpthe department come up with guidelines for deciding on its financial commitments. “We can’t do everything so we need to establish some priorities.” Crawford said funding is usually the first thing that springs to mind when people think about reviewing the university’s athletics programs.

“A lot of this is funded by student dollars so that’s the other reason we want to hear from students.” Pat Sheahan, head coach of the varsity football team, said a re-evaluation of the distribution of funding between programs is crucial if Queen’s wants to put itself among the best in the country.

“We probably need to narrow our focus in terms of our elite interuniversity teams,” he said.

“Excellence for an elite sport by definition means there is some exclusivity.” He said he hopes one result of the review will be an increase in funding to the football program. He said other schools, such as the University of British Columbia, have comprehensive support systems in place to help alleviate
the financial burdens placed on student-athletes.

“If you’re going to be an elite athlete, I don’t think you can be expected to be working a part-time job three days a week.” The water polo program was one of the teams whose funding was cut in 2002, and the team’s status changed from an interuniversity team to an interuniversity club. Head coach Don Duffey said the decision came as a shock, but the changes went largely unnoticed.

“When it first happened, it was like getting hit in the head with a two-by-four,” he said. “I wasn’t happy, but it didn’t really affect the program.” He said the team lost several hours of training time, and the athletes now have to pay to play on the team. He said he’s not as concerned about the fees as he is about the loss of time in the pool. “We’d be able to vie with teams like [McMaster] and Carleton who practice eight, nine, 10 hours a week compared to our four and a half.”

He said he recognizes that getting more time in the current setting is nearly impossible but he hopes the new facilities in the Queen’s Centre will allow him to expand the program again. He also said a new direction for Queen’s Athletics can only be a positive thing.

“I think we’re going to get out of the, ‘We’ve always had it there so we’re going to keep it even though we can’t compete in it.’ ” The review will also look at the management structure within the different athletics programs. For example, the intramural program is run by the department of Athletics and Recreation, but the instructional programs are run by University administration. Crawford said the split dates back to a time when faculty members were directly involved in the coaching and administration of interuniversity teams. “There may be a good reason, but we have to be asking that,” he said.

How Queen’s will make use of athletic financial awards, to be introduced in the fall, is also something that will be addressed. Crawford said he hopes the report will give the university a solid foundation upon which to build new programs and modify old ones.

“To get programs right … you kind of have to have a philosophy of sport, so we really have to be
able to articulate what we’re trying to accomplish.”

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