Athletics review suggests cutting sports

Report recommends pursuit of ‘excellence’

Bob Crawford and Janice Deakin co-authored the long-awaited review.
Bob Crawford and Janice Deakin co-authored the long-awaited review.
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A review on the University’s athletics recommends cutting the number of teams receiving top-tier funding while increasing the mandatory athletics and recreation fee to help key sports excel.

The review, released June 27, includes calls to reduce the number of inter-university teams receiving the most funding to between 10 and 16, down from the current 24, and increase the mandatory student fee for athletics and recreation to at least $164 annually.

Principal Karen Hitchcock has announced she won’t make any decisions regarding the review, originally scheduled to be released March 30, for another five months while she gathers additional feedback.

The review’s co-authors­­—Bob Crawford, computing professor and former dean of student affairs, and Janice Deakin, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research—examined 28 different documents from Queen’s, other universities and university sport organizations such as the OUA and CIS. They also met with 138 people involved in athletics at Queen’s, including coaches, athletes, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and university administrators and reviewed 161 written responses.

The end product is a 36-page review that focuses on two primary goals for Athletics and Recreation: providing broad-based opportunities for a variety of students while trying to excel in a narrow range of specific interuniversity programs.

Crawford and Deakin came up with 18 recommendations to improve Athletics and Recreation.

One recommendation calls for reducing the number of fully funded interuniversity teams in order to allow for a smaller number of programs to be funded at what the review describes as “a level of excellence.” The review projects that increased funding for teams that make the cut would assist them with travel and training costs, hiring full-time coaches and offering more athletic financial awards to varsity athletes. “[That means] you can compete at a level where winning championships is a possibility,” Crawford said.

Interuniversity teams include men’s and women’s squads in basketball, cross-country, fencing, ice hockey, rowing, rugby, soccer, swimming, track and field, and volleyball. The other interuniversity teams at present are men’s football and women’s field hockey, lacrosse and figure skating. Queen’s also funds 23 other programs to a lesser degree at the interuniversity club and competitive club levels, for a total of 47 programs.

The review ranked the 47 programs based on 20 criteria.

These included recent team performance, coaching leadership, quality of competition, marketability, fan support, revenue generation, cost per athlete, facility requirements and the role each team plays in developing professional or national team athletes. Crawford said the criteria came out of looking at what other schools had done.

“You have to have ones that are measurable,” he said. “We came up with what we thought would be a valuable set of criteria for Queen’s, but it was starting with a larger set than that, working down to that particular set, seeing what some other institutions had done and so on.”

The rankings were out of 34 and programs where the men’s and women’s teams train together, have the same coaching staff and compete at the same events—such as rowing, track and field, cross country and fencing—were combined for ranking purposes. Based on these criteria, men’s volleyball ranked first and women’s soccer ranked second.

Programs in danger of being cut based on their rank include women’s field hockey (24th), fencing (23rd), women’s lacrosse (22nd), swimming (18th), women’s rugby (16th), figure skating and men’s ice hockey (tied for 14th) and women’s ice hockey (11th).

Leslie Dal Cin, chair of Athletics and Recreation, said she can’t comment on the proposed cuts until the consultation period ends.

Even with a large decrease in the number of teams funded at the highest level, the excellence model would still create a financial burden. The review predicts that if 10 teams were funded according to this excellence model, even with increased gate revenues and contributions from booster clubs, there would still be an estimated annual deficit of $40,000. This rises to $270,000 for 11 teams, and $1.3 million for 16 teams.

Crawford said students’ contributions would be necessary to make up the deficit.

“That’s the other source of funding,” he said. “If students were to say ‘We’re not paying any more,’ then I think we do have a real issue on the deficit, and there can’t really be deficits.” The review recommends increasing the department’s mandatory student fee to a level that would place Queen’s among the top five Ontario universities, in terms of fees charged for athletic and recreational programs. York University has the highest fee among Ontario universities at $234.00.

Queen’s fee is indexed to increase each year with inflation, and is $128.66 for 2007-2008. This ranks Queen’s 10th in Ontario, according to the review.

Crawford said any decision to increase the fee would be up to students.

“Nobody’s going to change the fee because we recommend it. The only way that students can be charged such fees is if they agree to pay them, so it would have to be a referendum question.” The review recommended the University develop a comprehensive marketing and promotion strategy to increase self-generated revenue, but not increase its contribution to the Athletics and Recreation budget. The review described the University’s present contribution as “appropriate,” and recommended it continue to fund athletics and recreation at the current level.

Dal Cin said she understands the review’s decision not to recommend increased funding for her department from the University. “I think everyone would like more money, but there’s a recognition that we have to raise more self-generated revenue,” she said.

Hitchcock said she’s inviting feedback on the report before making any final decisions.

“A lot of consultation has occurred; my concern was, now there are specific recommendations, I want everyone to have the opportunity now to react to those specific recommendations,” she told the Journal.

“The most minor change as where an office is located in a building can cause angst and concern, so that’s why we want to have this additional consultation.”

Written submissions on the review’s proposals are due by Nov. 16, and Hitchcock said she expects to be in a position to make decisions regarding the review and its feedback by Dec. 31.

Crawford said he’s excited about Hitchcock’s plan to gather more feedback.

“I’m actually quite excited about the fact that the principal’s so supportive and interested,” he said. “I was a little apprehensive from the time we finished the report in terms of its timing, because, from all my years here, particularly those years in administration, you just don’t want to be making important decisions when the students aren’t here.”

“I think it’s a much wiser course of action, in fact, to have taken the time to say, ‘Let’s wait till students are back on campus and have some opportunity to engage this and give a reaction to it.’”

Dal Cin said she was pleased with the review’s recommendations and with the prospect of further consultation.

“I think it’s a very good piece of work. The recommendations are very holistic and integrated in terms of their scope,” she said. “I’d rather take the time to do a good piece of work than play on the edge of the puddle. The consultation process is very important, and the opinions [of the various groups involved] are something we need to hear.”

Review’s Key recommendations:

The review proposes 18 recommendations divided into three categories. Here is a summary of the key recommendations in each category.

Structural:

In the structural category, the review recommends asking students to raise the mandatory Athletics and Recreation student fee to one of the five highest in Ontario. The current fee is $128.66. If this recommendation was implemented immediately, the fee would be raised to at least $163.84 to match Western, which currently has the fifth-highest fee.

The review does not recommend that the University increase its contribution to the Athletics and Recreation budget, which it describes as “appropriate”. However, it proposes that Athletics and Recreation attempt to increase self-generated revenues.

Campus Recreation:

In the campus recreation category, the review proposes that Athletics and Recreation conduct a study on fees charged for instructional programming and intramurals at other universities, with recommendations and a timeline for implementing similar fees at Queen’s.

Interuniversity Sport:

The review proposes moving to channel more funding into a smaller list of sports. To this end, it recommends reducing the number of fully-funded interuniversity teams to 10-16, down from the current 24. The proposed increases in funding would be used to hire full-time coaches, offer more athletic financial awards and help offset training and facility costs.

The review also ranks the current 34 interuniversity programs based on recent success, operating cost, potential for revenue generation, and potential for developing athletes for Canada’s national teams (see page 25 for the complete rankings).

The review proposes a fund to help elite athletes who can compete at a national or international level in sports that are not fully funded. The review also suggests that another major review take place in five years.

Review Team Rankings

1. Men’s Volleyball
2. Women’s Soccer
3. Women’s Basketball
4. Men’s Basketball
5. Football
6. Men’s Soccer
7. Cross Country
8. Women’s Volleyball
9. Men’s Rugby
10. Rowing
11. Women’s Ice Hockey
12. Track and Field
13. Golf
14. Figure Skating
14. Men’s Ice Hockey
16. Women’s Rugby
17. Women’s Waterpolo
18. Swimming
19. Men’s Waterpolo
20. Cheerleading
21. Wrestling
22. Women’s Lacrosse
23. Fencing
24. Field Hockey
24. Sailing
24. Squash
27. Curling
28. Synchronized Swimming
29. Men’s Lacrosse
30. Nordic Skiing
31. Men’s Baseball
32. Ultimate
33. Triathlon
34. Mountain Biking

The rankings were made based on a list of 20 criteria, including recent success, operating costs, potential for revenue generation, and ability to produce athletes for international competition. It can be found on page 24 of the review.

Source: Queen’s University Athletics and Recreation Review: Charting a Course of Excellence; May 2007

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