Archive for Friday, April 7, 2006

Woodling: Begging by KU improper

April 7, 2006


I don't pretend to follow Kansas University student politics, but in skimming the campus newspaper the other day I noticed an election is coming up next week.

Student Senate seats are the main prize, but something else caught my eye in the University Daily Kansan. KU students also will vote on three referendums involving their fees.

One referendum calls for a reduction of $46 in fees. That one should fly.

Another involves a $1.50 increase per semester to fund something called Multicultural Education Enhancement. That sounds like a good thing, and what's another buck-50?

The third is a request for $20 per student per semester to fund women's and non-revenue intercollegiate sports. Of that 20 bucks, $15 would be used to build a boathouse for the women's rowing team.

A boathouse for the rowing team???

Certainly, a boathouse would be nice, but the KU rowing team has existed for 11 years as a varsity sport without one. And this 20-buck fee is in addition to the 20 smackers the students have been shelling out every semester since 1996 to help fund women's and non-revenue sports.

In other words, the student athletic fee would double from $20 to $40 a semester.

It's not unusual for student activity fees to help fund women's athletics, although not necessarily at the major universities - like Kansas - that command a king's ransom in television money, endorsements and football bowl payouts.

Still, there is no question women's athletics are a drain on athletic department budgets everywhere. The KU athletic department underwrites 10 women's varsity programs, and not one pays its own way.

In fact, the only women's sport that even has a chance of avoiding red ink is basketball, but the average crowds at KU women's games would at least have to double to reach the break-even point.

Salaries and travel are the main expenses. Take the KU softball team. During February and March, coach Tracy Bunge took her players to weekend tournaments in Tulsa, Okla.; Houston; Las Vegas; Hawaii; and Palm Springs, Calif.

Expensive road trips are not unusual, though. Other major-school non-revenue women's programs do the same thing. It's all about matching men's and women's spending under federal Title IX guidelines.

Title IX is the reason KU made rowing and soccer women's varsity sports in 1995 and the reason KU dropped men's tennis and swimming five years ago.

By and large, football and men's basketball always have been the primary revenue sources for college athletics, although you can't sniff at $7 million in donations through KU's Williams Fund.

Kansas University's athletic department is a multi-million dollar business. It is so corporate-oriented that it has 10 executives - or administrators, as they call them - who earn six-figure salaries. Six of those 10, in fact, earn more than $155,000 a year.

Maybe it's just me, but somehow it doesn't seem right that a big-time athletic department should be asking for a handout to build something as mundane as a boathouse.


JHawkalum 12 years ago

Are you kidding? Spend a week shadowing a KU Women's Rower and then try to tell me a boathouse is not deserved. But that would mean leaving that comfy chair in the News Center and exposing yourself to conditions most people would not, let alone to compete/train in. You're right, how dare the rowing team try to represent the University of Kansas in a way even remotely equal to others..we should just leave that to the basketball team..but oh wait they can't even seem to make it past the first round in the NCAA tournament! I know, they still bring in, with football, the majority of the revenue which is awesome, but does that mean the other sports should just fade away? I don't think so! If the teams at KU can perform top notch across the board, KU Athletics & the University as a whole will be better. If that means a one-time boathouse investment for the Women's Rowing Team, and various improvements for other 'lesser' sports, then it should be something students and people of the community are proud to say they contributed to! Rock Chalk Jayhawk & Go KU Rowing - Good luck against K-State tomorrow at the river!

braylyn 12 years ago

I found this article to be offensive and demeaning not only to the Women's Rowing team, but all KU women's teams. To imply that no women's team is worth the time and effort given by the University unless they are able to break even is insulting. Women's teams work tirelessly to achieve success and often they do. Even when Women's teams are successful, they don't receive the credit or recognition they deserve. I invite Chuck to come to a regatta and tell me that the conditions are not sub-standard and in need of improvement. Why does it seem like such a burden to protect the University's investment in smart, athletic women? This article was a cheap blow to all women's sports.

Tony Kisner 12 years ago

I read it the other way, I think Chuck is saying if KU can afford 10 $100+K admin salaries, why are they hitting up the student body for an additional $20?

I think his "mundane" comment speaks to his conclusion that this is a base line need.

I'll read it again but that is my take.

Tony Kisner 12 years ago

OK, I read it again. I'm not sure what Chuck is saying, should KU just build it because they like other major sports programs should have the money (see his TV contract comment) or is he taking a shot at Title IX?

I hope it's that KU should just fund women's sports.

rosdaab 12 years ago

Congratulations, your article entitled "Begging by KU improper" made it to my email inbox 500 miles from Lawrence faster than the KU Women's Rowing record for the 2000 meter race. Apparently, not only does news travel fast, but so do ignorant, sexist opinion columns.

If you would have properly researched your article, you would know that the KU rowing team is the one of a handful of Division I programs that does not have a boathouse. And you would know that the team currently has thousands of dollars of very fragile equipment completely unprotected from the weather and that the team consistently finds their racing boats damaged by vandals who were able to navigate the seemingly impenetrable security of the chain-link fence that is currently housing the equipment. You would also know that it is pretty hard to convince a recruit to row at Kansas when they see that excuse for a facility on the banks of the river.

I was a member of the Kansas Women's rowing team from 1996 - 2000, and volunteered and coached with team until I moved to Minnesota in 2003. I know first hand that the need for a boathouse is anything but "mundane." Mundane is the tired argument that I am so sick of hearing over and over again that college athletics is supposed to be a business. Last time I checked KUAC is not-for-profit, because it is an athletic department for a university. You know, that place where young, ambitious people go to learn?

The young women that I rowed with and coached epitomize the student-athlete, and I learned as much or more from them then I did from any classes I took at KU (which, by the way, also do not make a profit).

I, for one, would appreciate it if you would do your homework before you write this uninformed garbage.

Jen Catloth 12 years ago

Easy Does It - If you have ever read any of Chuck's previous articles you would know that this man is the most anti women's sports writer ever. I believe that his point, although not clear is that, KU athletics should be footing the bill, but this facility will also be used by KU Club rowing teams as well. Shouldn't the student community want to produce quality club and varsity programs and help them out in a situation where KU Athletics has left them stranded for the past 11 years?

aew20 12 years ago

My letter is concerning the article "Begging by KU improper". Allow me to clarify a few things. First of all, Mr. Woodling's article is not defined as an editorial, which implies that his article represents the opinion of LJW. This is where I get confused: the LJW has always supported KU students and athletes.
Secondly, the $20 increase for non-revenue intercollegiate sports does not just affect financially "draining" WOMEN sports, but also men's baseball, track and field, cross country, and golf. KU is fortunate to have such revenue sports as basketball and football that can help support the other sports, but non-revenue sports are not just about money. The women's soccer team won the Big 12 last year, the women's basketball team won more games in the NIT than the men did in the NCAA tournament, swimming has Ashley Leidigh, a freshman, competing in the NCAA championships. Women's sports provide more venues for fans to show school spirit, possibly root for an underdog and offer many more opportunities for women to go to college because KU, is a female dominant school (52% women to 48% men) and athletic department (223 women athletes to 197 men, according to KU athletics webpage).
Not all women's sports are a drain on their athletic departments' budgets. Take the Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team: Pat Summit makes as much money, if not more, than a large percentage of men's NCAA coaches. Tennessee Lady Vols sell out every home game just as fast as KU men's basketball tickets do. How many schools use the women's basketball games to recruit football players? Not all women's sports are financial drains: Lastly, regarding the Women's Rowing Boathouse, after all, all student-athletes that the increase would help, will be paying the same increase. All students' campus fees go to help a small group, whether it is non-traditional students or a minority group. The KU Women's Rowing team has been around for eleven years, thanks to Title IX. As stated the KU Women's Rowing team is the only Division I school in the nation, besides Cincinnati (new program 06), that does not have a boathouse. The women practice on the Kansas River and ask any Lawrence resident; they know that it is not a clean river. Also, "The Cage," the name for the wire fence that encloses all of the boats, which houses ½ million dollars in equipment, is open to the elements, vandalism, and has no running water, or bathrooms. Rowers endure harsh Kansas weather, using the port-o-potties, stirring up dirty contaminated Kansas River water, and commuting to the river everyday. For crying out loud, the football team is getting a multi-million dollar facility because commuting was too hard on them.
As for the women's and non-revenue intercollegiate sports fee increase, please just think about it:IS twenty dollars too much money to make University of Kansas a better place for future students/athletes. Investments in the future are never handouts, Mr. Woodling.

planetalanet 12 years ago

After reading and digesting what Mr. Woodling has written, I would like to point out a couple of things that I take issue with. I will try not to be redundant since the previous letter writers have said things I completely agree with.

First I would like to say that "begging" isn't the correct word for what is going on. Seeking support to improve conditions for female student athletes and their equipment is hardly asking for charity. By pointing out the inferior conditions that KU rowers endure, this puts a strong argument towards the need of the increase in the fee. This isn't asking for pity, it's asking for a positive vote to do something constructive about it.

The final thing I'd like to point out is that just because something has been done for a long time doesn't make it right. Improvement only comes from taking an active stance against stagnation. While the rowing team has existed without a boathouse for 11 years, this does not mean they should continue without one. The previous people who made comments pointed out the expensive equipment that needs protection from the elements and vandals, and the increasing difficulty to recruit quality rowers to an apathetic university. In the highly competitive world of collegiate athletics, the university and their students should want their school to take pride in their Division I athletes and programs.

Thanks, Alane

rowingprincess 12 years ago

Perhaps instead of belittling women's sports Chuck should be focusing his angst against the salaries of the 10 athletics administrators at the University of Kansas.

I might also add that according to the College Board, tuition at KU is 13 percent below the national average. So if the students at the University of Kansas want to remain going to a Division I school they should put on their big boy panties and deal with it. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

(And yes, I am a currently paying out-of-state tuition at KU and don't care about an additional $20. Let's be serious, $20? That's a parking ticket at KU).

Risa Kearn 12 years ago

FYI, there are more comments posted if you access this story from the ljworld home page instead of the sports section. Not sure why they aren't combined.......

jmcjike 12 years ago

Woodling doesn't have a problem with the womens rowing team. He does have a problem with a corporation the size of KU Athletics asking for a $20.00 increase when they have multiple "executives" making over 155k per year. That's the whole point of this story!

bankboy119 12 years ago

I say don't give them money. The men's teams don't receive money, they're funded on their own. Women's teams could survive if they were the same quality as the men's teams, but they aren't. Have any of you ever been to a women's bball game? Talk about dead. They don't deserve a handout. If the men's bball team didn't make money, they couldn't afford the things they have. That's not being sexist, it's business.

buckster24 12 years ago

This issue that I take with this story is Mr. Woodlings dismissive and sexist attitude towards the extistance and status of womens sports at the University of Kansas.

His premise behind the argument about overpaid coaches and a well endowed athletic department is valid. It is also irrefutible that mens sports, in particular basketball and football are the only ones that are finiancally viable on their own. But, if the laws of economics were the only determinants of what sports universities supported, the the entire essence of what collegiate sports are would be lost. Along with alllllll the other teams (womens AND mens).

By sarcasitcally posing ther queistion 'A boathouse for the rowing team?' (wow, you can almost hear the increjulity that KU wastes money in supporting an endevour as useless as a bucnh of girls floating around in boats in his voice!) he is insluting and demeaning to those past, present and future involved with the program, and totally out of touch with the realities of the world we live in today.

Inorder to compete on the national stage, all KU sports need to be have the facilities to recruit and train competent and competitive athletes. For the past 11 years an integral part of this equation was missing for the rowing team. The success of the past will only be eclipsed in the future if this matter gets address. The writings of uninformed reporters is doing nothing to this end, and the LJW, as a supporter of KU athletics in general should be embarassed that they let journalism of this nature appear in thier pages.

andrea buch ku womens rowing 1998-2002

ks2va 12 years ago

Good journalists don't make assumptions.

Does the KU football team actually make a profit? Most major Division I football programs are still in the red. Making it to a BCS Bowl Game is about the only way to make any real money from football. I'm not sure, but I doubt the Kansas football program actually makes much of a profit at all. Mr. Woodlng should have investigated that. Just think about all the scholarships it takes to craft a football team! Even if it does profit, my guess is it's not a windfall. It's certainly not enough to sacrifice the well-being of other athletic "non- revenue" programs, women's or men's.

Another fault in Mr. Woodling's argument is that KU athletic administrators are overpaid. What are administrators at other DI schools getting paid? I can tell you - they're getting paid just as much, if not more! Those are typical salaries, even below average due to the low cost of living. If KU doesn't offer competitive salaries, it will only get inferior people in those positions and then we'd all be writing in about how poorly run the athetic department is.

I wonder how Mr. Woodling's article would have been different if he'd have researched those two items. Of course, facts rarely sway the opinions of close-minded people.

Jen Catloth 12 years ago

Adam - you got credit for those years you paid to fund the rec center, just go to the administration office and you will get a free semester for every semester you paid fees towards it. Also since we get no support from the press, it is hard for people to know when the races are unless you know someone on the team. I will let you know that the Big XII championships are at Wyandotte Lake On April 30th.

For everyone who said we (the rowers) are missing the point of the article, we aren't missing it. We are just close to the story and KU athletics has been promising a boathouse for years and we still have not seen any action. The way I see it is that this is our chance, our one real chance to improve our facilities and people like Chuck and the guy who wrote the UDK article are trying to strip us of that chance. If this doesn't get passed it may be another 11 years before we see anohter chance.

This boathouse will also be used by the KU Club Crew team so it could be used by non varsity athletes as well.

On a side note, how many recruits do you think other teams would get if they knew that when they had to go take a piss they would have to use a portopotty? Hmmm not too many. And let me tell you the addition of a porto is a new thing there was many years when you had to pop a squat in the woods.

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