Coaches prepare for cuts in funds

By Alex Gary

NIU coaches cited a common theme in reaction to the planned phase out of their state allocated funds—teamwork.

The plan, announced Sept. 3, will completely phase out state appropriated funds for intercollegiate athletics at NIU by 1998. The first cuts begin next year with a $500,000 reduction. These funds will be reallocated for academic purposes.

“(The coaches) will have to work collectively,” said Bobbie Cesarek, NIU gymnastics coach.

After 1998 the athletic department will be run on an entrepreneurial basis, relying on external funds such as gate receipts, outside gifts and television revenue.

“We are all in the same boat,” said NIU soccer coach Willie Roy. “Now everyone has to work harder to get people to the games.”

Roy said the move is a necessary one and will only help in the long run. “By having state funds that puts us in a welfare state and coaches can tend to get a little lazy,” Roy said. “When everything is said and done we will have built something we all can be proud of.”

Athletes, especially in non-revenue sports, are also going to have to help in raising revenue. “Our kids (in gymnastics) already do some fund-raising to cover some extra costs,” Cesarak said.

NIU softball coach Dee Abrahamson said creative ways to cut costs also should be found. “A good way for us to cut costs is to work with other programs where your needs are similar, like baseball (for us).”

Each of the coaches contacted said the welfare of the athletic department is a collective effort. However, the revenue-generating sports which are football and men and women’s basketball, will eventually be more emphasized.

“Inevitably the revenue sports will feel a little bit more pressure because the better they do the better it is for all of us,” said Abrahamson.

Gary Evans, NIU football defensive coordinator, agreed with Abrahamson, adding, “I think anytime you are one of the major sports, as far as number of participants and number of fans who attend, there is always more pressure.”

“It’s a tough time for all of us. We just want to hold up our end,” Evans said.

Roy said students should not be concerned about whether NIU can stay competitive in these changing times. “If (the reallocation of state funds) is happening at NIU, it is going to happen everywhere,” he said.

“(Universities) are all going to be competing on the same level,” Roy said. “Or we can all switch to Notre Dame. Somehow those Catholics have a way of raising $30 million every year.”