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Group allocates funds to athletic department

Megan Loney | Thursday, February 10, 2011

Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) voted Wednesday to set aside $1,000 of its capital budget to repair or replace fitness equipment for student use.

Athletics Commissioner Christine Brown approached the board the first meeting of the semester with a request from the Athletics Department asking for a full or partial reimbursement of funds that were used to replace two backboards. SGA discussed the request at its last meeting and decided it needed more information from the Athletics Department.

Saint Mary’s Athletic Director Julie Schroeder-Biek was present at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting to discuss the reimbursement request and answer questions. Schroeder-Biek said the Athletic Department requested the reimbursement because the money it spent on the backboards cut into its funds for the Angela Athletic facility, which students use.

The Athletic Department replaced the backboards to fulfill new NCAA equipment regulations. According to a new NCAA mandate, “starting with the 2010-2011 season, a red light placed behind each backboard or LED lights placed around the backboard shall be required.”

The Athletic Department was informed of the change in regulations two years ago and anticipated the cost; however, problems arose when the LED lights did not fit the backboards.

“The backboards were so outdated that the LED lights did not fit,” Schroeder-Biek said. “The additional costs to replace the backboards were unexpected.”

Schroeder-Biek said the money spent on the new backboards was pulled from the portion of the fundraising money student athletes earn from football parking in the fall semester. She said the Athletic Department has a set budget and no funds to request new equipment, which led to using general funds for the Angela Athletic facility.

“As you know, the backboards are used not only by the basketball team, but also by intramural basketball,” Schroeder-Biek said. “There are over 1,000 people a week using the fitness center.

“We put in this reimbursement request because the cost of the new backboards [$3,380] cut into the funds for updating the facility,” Schroeder-Biek said. “That’s where the [reimbursement] money would go — back into the fitness center.”

Schroeder-Biek thanked the board for extending the opportunity to clarify the issue and left. The board discussed the issue with a pro and con list.

Those who supported giving funds to the Athletics Department focused on the point that the money would be going to support the athletic facility and eventually it would benefit the entire student body.

“It may open a can of worms, but there are 1,100 girls that go to the gym every week,” senior Julie Laemmle said. “Not only will students use it, but prospective students touring the campus would be more attracted to equipment more recent than the 1970s.”

SGA also debated the effect that granting this request to the Athletics Department, which is outside of SGA’s usual jurisdiction, would have in setting a precedent for future requests.

“If we give money to one department, we open ourselves to other departments, including academic departments that we don’t fund,” Student Diversity Board President Morgan Gay said. “It would be setting the wrong precedent; SGA traditionally gives money to student clubs and organizations.”

After an extended discussion and a motion with several amendments, it was decided that SGA will set aside $1,000 of the remaining $3,218.96 available of the capital budget for repairs and equipment replacement to the Angela Athletic facility.