Of the $333,711 that Pomona-Pitzer spends on the varsity teams’ operating expenses, there exists a range of team needs and expenses that reveals a budget with high variability in per-participant expenditures.
Before each season, every P-P athletic team submits an annual budget proposal to Director of Athletics Charles Katsiaficas. Each team has different per capita participant expenses based on the type of sport and number of players. However, most expenses are rolled-over fixed operating costs from the previous year, so the budget varies little unless a team is traveling that year.
Travel is often the biggest expense in a team’s budget. Teams previously had the option of taking a bus trip every two years or doing a plane trip every four years. Due to budget constraints, the travel budget was frozen in 2009 for all teams except for football and women’s lacrosse, which need to travel in order to fill their schedules and play comparably competitive teams. The travel budget for all teams will be reinstated in the 2013-2014 school year with a slight increase in the budget from before travel was frozen.
Overall, however, the budgets for sports teams remain relatively flat. Roger Caron, who has been head coach of the football team for nearly twenty years, says that the college has held team budgets to a zero- to one-percent increase or a decrease in real dollars annually over the last several years.
“Our athletic budget has been enough to be okay. Nothing more than that or nothing less than that,” Caron said. “No one goes out without a helmet.”
However, Caron said that P-P athletic budgets are lower than some of their competitors in SCIAC and similar conferences like the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
The women’s soccer team is on the opposite end of the cost spectrum from the football team. In 2011-2012, football had $1140 in operating expenses per participant, while women’s soccer cost $445 per player.
But Jennifer Scanlon, head coach of the women’s soccer team, echoed Caron’s sentiments about the budget covering basic necessities.
“We are fine with what we get,” Scanlon said. “There are always extras, but we have what we need.”
P-P athletics does not do fundraising or charge for games like some SCIAC schools. This means that the athletic budget might be smaller, but it also comes with less responsibility and less unknown factors.
“It’s more dependable,” Scanlon said. “We know what we are going to get.”
Rising women’s soccer captain Ariana Sanchez PO ’14 said she wishes that her team could travel more.
“I think that traveling as a team is important to the program as it allows our team to compete at a new level,” Sanchez said. “I know that there are more women’s soccer teams in Southern California than other sports, which necessitates travel in order to play games outside of the SCIAC, but it doesn’t feel fair to be restricted to traveling once every four years even when the team is doing well.”
Other soccer players have expressed similar desires to travel more often but are still satisfied with the current budget.
“Although the athletic budget is very small relative to Pomona’s large endowment, I have been overall happy with Pomona’s athletic facilities and equipment,” said Allie Tao PO ’14, a rising co-captain. “Our athletic department spends money in the correct places.”
Although the football team gets to travel every year to fill their schedule, they also have to make sacrifices in other areas. While the soccer teams get new uniforms every three years, the football team usually waits ten years for new uniforms or other gear that is not safety-related.
“I think we all would love new game jerseys or practice equipment because what we have is getting old,” said Duncan Hussey PO ’13, a football captain. “But at the same time, it remains functional, so although it may not look very good, we don’t really have anything to complain about.”
Football player Kyle Whalen PO ’15 said that although it is clear that other teams in SCIAC have invested more money into their football teams, safety equipment is the most important concern for football. Hussey agreed with his teammate.
“In my experiences, all the equipment that is most important for player safety, particularly helmets and our training room equipment, has been top-of-the-line,” Hussey said.
It is often hard to compare the budgets of different sports because the cost of making the experience enjoyable for athletes will vary considerably for different sports. Travel is often the most-noticed cost discrepancy; however, much of this is due to the level of available competition in this area. Every football team in SCIAC travels at least once a year to find similar competition.
Don Swan PO ’15, a football player, said that even competing in SCIAC, P-P football is at a huge disadvantage because of the difficulty of admissions here.
“In the 1990s, we were an independent team that played teams with similar academic caliber,” Swan said. “During this time, the football team consistently had winning records and was a much more respected program.”
Many athletes recognize the difference in competition level among different sports and understand the sacrifices that teams make working under a tight budget.
“I wish we would have had more opportunities to travel as a team,” said Anika Burrell PO ’13, a soccer player. “But at the same time I feel like Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer has enough competition in SCIAC, and there isn’t a huge need to travel.”
After working for P-P athletics for ten years, Scanlon said, “I don’t feel like there’s any team that gets a bigger slice of the pie. I think people get what they need. I would definitely say it’s fair.”