Club sports are back and are fully running this academic year as COVID-19 has become easier to navigate on campus. Like all other areas of campus, club sports have been significantly impacted with balancing state, university and league guidelines regarding COVID-19. Indoor sports are still facing some challenges due to the mask mandate still being in effect. Despite the health and pandemic side of things, funding surrounding club sports is yet another stressor for club sports post-pandemic.
Every year, each team completes a budget projection form with Assistant Director of Competitive Sports, Chelsey Wright. Once these forms are reviewed, the club team receives a grant necessary for them to play their season. Membership dues are required per athlete to make up for the remainder of their budget, fundraising and soliciting donations are highly encouraged. Wright spoke on the matter, stating “the majority of the funding is granted as an allocation from our Club Sports Operating Budget that is provided from the university to help fund our club sports.”
Senior Caroline Lanzillotta, the president of the club volleyball team, stated that “We were notified that we would no longer have the ‘roll over’ option, which would allow the dues we collected in past years to be used whenever.” When the athletic department made the decision to switch over to the “use it or lose it” system, each club team was incentivized to fundraise more to cover for the leftover expenses that the team may need.
Club sports funding is entirely dependent on the amount of athletes on each team and the various factors that are necessary to each sport. Some teams are in separate leagues and tournaments that require extended travel, overnight stays, referees, external facilities, and other payments. For example, the Fairfield University club ice hockey team has to use an ice rink off-campus where ice time is priced at $400 for a singular practice slot. Conversely, other teams fall under the category of “recreational,” meaning their budget mainly goes to equipment and internal facilities, and the other factors do not apply to them.
The amount of fundraising and donations each team secures may allure to the divide and assumptions that each team is not funded fairly. The “outside funding” is put into a separate account specifically for each team, which is accessible for the team until used. The more funding each team solicits themselves will benefit in the sense that members on the team pay less out of their own pockets. Allocations are provided annually, so the fundraising and donations per team are considered a boost to their revenue. “We have opted for a Chipotle fundraiser and collected another round of dues this year, so we are looking like we are in a good place,” Lanzillotta said.
Fairfield University strives to support the club sports program to the best of its ability. They work diligently to advocate for the teams and each of their individual successes across the board. In order to do that, they constantly evaluate and adjust their policies, procedures, and processes to meet every team’s individual needs.
Executive Editor of the Mirror Julia Lanzillotta is the sister of Caroline Lanzillotta, the president of the club volleyball team, and thus did not read or edit this article before publication.
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