This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.
Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah has a rich tradition of athletic achievement. From the baseball diamond to the basketball court, the Eagles have a tradition of excellence. USU-Eastern has produced teams that have competed for championships, (third in the nation by men’s basketball team in 2009), All-Americans and has sent many athletes on to Division I schools. However, with all of that excellence the athletic department has the lowest budget in the Scenic West Athletic Conference, when compared to conference schools competing in volleyball, baseball and both men’s and women’s basketball.
For the 2010-2011 athletic budgets, Coach Dave Paur, athletic director for USU-Eastern, received $665,428. That budget was used for many different things including; scholarships for student-athletes which can include full tuition, housing, a meal plan and books; travel for away games; which includes boarding, gas to get the team to places as far as Northern Idaho College, which is a 17-hour bus ride; and recruiting trips to attempt to get high school athletes to choose to attend USU-Eastern and put on a jersey to play for the college.
The amount of money in an athletic program isn’t an exact reflection of competitiveness. In the men’s basketball program, Coach Brad Barton’s teams have had a better record in the SWAC than any other team. The men’s basketball teams have finished second the past two seasons, and also finished third in the nation two years ago. CSI finished third and first, respectively, in the same time frame.
Despite the lack of funding for all sports at Eastern, all teams remain competitive even though always creating ways to raise money. The Eastern baseball program runs its recruiting budget on $0. In addition, assistant baseball coach KC Smurthwaite said ” it’s very difficult to recruit against schools with recruiting budgets, a lot of schools are starting to allocate student fee money to help build recruiting funds.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah State Eastern has the lowest amount of student fees set aside for athletics in the state. Eastern has allotted $20 of student fees that help support athletics. Not only is Eastern last of the state colleges, but is $22 off Snow College the next nearest school. Conference rival Salt Lake Community College sits at $60.
While USU-Eastern received a meager budget for an athletic program that is in the nations premier junior college conference. Many conference teams received double or even triple that amount to help supplement their athletic budgets. The College of Southern Idaho received a budget of $3,014,442. CSI competes in two extra sports, rodeo and softball. Snow College, our neighbors across the mountains to the west, had a budget of $1,638,755. Snow does not play baseball however; instead they compete in football and softball. Salt Lake Community College had a budget of $1,547,085. SLCC competes in all of the same sports and have also opted to compete in softball, yet they still receive double the athletic budget. Even Colorado Northwestern Community College has a larger athletic budget than USU-Eastern. CNCC received an athletic budget of $825,475.
It has also been reported that the CNCC President, Russell George ,has said that their athletic budget will be substantially increased to help make their athletics program be more competitive. If Paur can run a competitve and even winning sports programs on this meager budget, what would be possible if a larger budget was in line for USU-Eastern’s athletic department? Perhaps more sports could be added to the athletic department including softball, football or soccer.
Athletic fees paid by students
at Utah’s college campuses
U of U $152
Funding of SWAC athletic departments
USU Eastern $609,428