Posted on 20 February 2014.
Eleven of the 15 Indiana Wesleyan University athletic teams have combined for 37 conference championships during the last six years. However, not all these teams did it with the same amount of money.
According to IWU Athletic Director Mark DeMichael, some of the funding differences occur between male and female sports and also the notoriety a sport brings to the university. But in the end, he said each sport gets what they need to thrive in the league and feel value.
“Our philosophy is we want everyone to have an opportunity to succeed across the board,” DeMichael said.
The university follows Title IX, a gender equity law which states neither gender can be discriminated against in education programs.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams receive the most funding from the athletic department, but all sports are valued the same.
Because of this, women’s teams have to get at least the same amount of funding as men’s sports. Since IWU has a women’s volleyball team and not a men’s, women’s athletics get more university funding overall, according to DeMichael.
Despite the difference in genders, DeMichael said each sport gets the same size budget for a male and female equivalent. For example, the men’s tennis team gets the same as the women’s team.
However, some sports have more than others.
“Everybody looks at it and says well, the basketball teams seem to have a little bit more than others,” DeMichael said. “I’m comfortable with telling you, yeah. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams are funded a little higher than everybody else.”
DeMichael said the athletic department acts as public relations for the university, so if a team brings more publicity to the school, it gets a larger piece of the budget. He also said attendance at games from students and the community is a factor.
Having more money, however, isn’t because of valuing one team more than another, according to DeMichael. It’s based on a system set up about six years ago. DeMichael and former Vice President Dr. Todd Voss discussed how to budget the teams when DeMichael started as athletic director in 2008.
“We were fortunate that in 2008, we had leadership that understood the value of what athletics provided for the institution and were able to see how far below the average that we were when compared to similar institutions,” DeMichael said.
Because of this, he and Voss put together an “assessment tool” to determine what each team brings to the university.
Basketball fits as the most marketable team for IWU.
Garvin Haughey (sr) plays basketball for the Wildcats and said he doesn’t feel any pressure being on the basketball team, despite it being the highest profiled-sport.
“Being a member of the basketball team has been a huge honor and the coaching staff has always been extremely encouraging and uplifting,” Haughey said.
“Basketball is a higher profile, but as far as who we value, we value them all equally,” DeMichael said.
Each sport has the same budget size for the male and female team. So men’s soccer is the same amount as the women’s team.
Since some teams have less funding, DeMichael said they may seem less than some of the more prominent teams, but this isn’t true.
“The danger is that [they] can feel undervalued, but we want to make a conscious effort to make sure that they don’t feel that way,” DeMichael said.
He stressed that the athletic department allows each team to have enough resources to help be competitive in the league. DeMichael said this is the minimum standard that the athletic department sets for each team.
Athletic teams also get proceeds from private donors. The basketball team got a donation for new locker rooms in 2011. Even though the donation was mainly given to the basketball team, DeMichael said the money was given throughout the department to fund new facilities for baseball, softball, soccer and track and field in order to benefit all programs.
DeMichael said each team gets quality uniforms for the sport. In addition, all teams get the same per diem for traveling and same treatment for lodging and food.
“Our minimum starts at a level that allows all of our athletes to feel valued,” DeMichael said. “All of our coaches to feel valued.”
The athletic department has a commissioning ceremony at the beginning of the year for the athletes. Rachael Heiniger (sr), women’s tennis player, said events such as the ceremony show how the department values the athletes.
“These events really stress to the student athletes that when we take the court or field we are not just playing for ourselves, coaches, or the university but we are playing for the glory of God,” Heiniger said. “I really like that they stress this among the student athletes because it provides more meaning when we perform.”
Even though recent and past success of Wildcat teams, DeMichael stressed that winning does not equal more money.
“[The budgets] are not based on success,” DeMichael said. “They’re based on what’s right for the university right now.”
According to DeMichael, the athletic department hasn’t unfrozen the budget since 2008. Since the university’s enrollment has been decreasing, the department want to be “better stewards” of the money; they haven’t asked for an increase, and DeMichael said they don’t need it.