Archive for Friday, April 14, 2006

Woodling: Rowers, politics win big

April 14, 2006


Jennifer Catloth was the first to give me the news. And good news it was for the Kansas University rowing team.

During midweek voting, KU students agreed to add $20 per semester to their fees - $15 of it to build a boathouse and $5 to help fund other women's varsity sports.

For the first time, the KU crew team - elevated to varsity status 11 years ago in response to Title IX guidelines - will have a boathouse instead of having to store its sculls, etc., in a chain-link fence area at Burcham Park.

"Sixty-three percent of the vote went to support it," Catloth, wife of KU rowing coach Rob Catloth, informed me by e-mail. "I guess you were wrong."

In mentioning I was wrong, Catloth was referring to a column I wrote on the subject that appeared in last Friday's Journal-World.

Many people who read that column - particularly those with a KU rowing agenda - thought I was dissing KU varsity rowing, so they filled chat rooms with anti-Woodling venom.

Others who read the column dispassionately realized that I wasn't anti-rowing. My point was that Kansas Athletics Inc., the self-contained corporation that runs the KU athletic department, had no business asking students to pay for a boathouse.

Kansas Athletics Inc. is a multimillion-dollar operation that doesn't have to pay taxes, and yet it had the gall to ask KU students - the lowest rung on its fund ladder - to pay for what it clearly considered a low-priority capital improvement.

Not that Kansas Athletics Inc. ever pays for facilities. Practically every venue used by KU varsity athletes has the name of a donor or donors attached to it.

Why pay for a facility when you can get someone else to foot the bill?

Unable to come up with a sugar daddy for rowing, Kansas Athletics Inc. took the issue to the student body and performed a masterful job of making women's sports sound like a charity. Creating a favorable spin is what it's all about in politics.

More than 60 percent of the students - although only 20 percent of the KU student body voted, according to the University Daily Kansan, KU's student newspaper - were in favor of adding another $20 on top of the $20 they already give to support women's athletics.

But the final tally also meant that nearly 40 percent of those students who bothered to submit ballots were adamant against doubling the amount of money they give to Kansas Athletics Inc.

Or perhaps at least some realized the cost of a boathouse was chump change to an athletic department that operates with the most bloated bureaucracy in the Big 12 Conference.

I'm happy Kansas University's rowers - women who are among the most dedicated and focused on campus - finally will have the boathouse they have wanted and needed for so long.

But I still don't think it's right that the student body has to pay for it.


Tony Kisner 12 years ago


That's what I thought Chuck ment the first time.

Way too much money in college sports. And where does it go and who is held accountable? The AD is accountable but mostly for wins, not much else.

ks2va 12 years ago

Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions. Once again, Mr. Woodling gives us no evidence to support his argument. He just hopes we'll blindly believe that "Kansas Athletics Inc" is a money-grubbing monster robbing poor college students of their lunch money.

I challenge Mr. Woodling to investigate how KU athletics compares to the rest of the country. He casually mentions that it is the "most bloated" adminstration in the Big 12, but it's only a vague statement with no teeth attached.

NCAA athletics are considered a student activity, and, at most levels, that is what they are. That is why student fees generally pay for athletics facilities. That is the rule, not the exception. I've worked in college athletics for 7 years and KU seems to be functioning like most schools.

Those NCAA commercials they kept running during March Madness are right...most of us former athletes go on to use our degrees, not our jump shots. But we are all better for having spent those hours in the gym or on the field. Even the most stream-lined athletic department needs help funding the programs that are in place strictly to serve students, not make bucks. I can tell you from experience, it's worth it.

Jen Catloth 12 years ago

fletch, i have decided to stop arguing this point because you know what. we won the vote, and we will finally have our boathouse. Thank you to all the students out there who actually care about non revenue sports.

Jen Catloth 12 years ago

The fee is there for three years, it is also my understanding that "eventually" KUAC would have paid for a boathouse but it wouldn't have been any time soon. With the fee it will be underway within a year!

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