The Value of Athletics?


Kyle Russell

IVCC’s first baseman, Levi Ericson hits a deep sac fly to drive in Michael Baker scoring the first of only two runs in the April 19 game lost to Black Hawk. Baseball is allegedly scheduled to be one of the sports that will move to Division 3 next year and will no longer award tuition waivers.

In the ever-changing financial climate where more and more schools struggle to find the support they need, decisions must be made on what is worth supporting and what is not.

IVCC’s athletics are one of these topics where the program’s worth is under question. Within the last five years funding for sports has dropped $30,000 and tuition waivers have been cut by more than half.

These cuts mixed with steady support from students, family, and administration for IVCC’s athletes and their events brings up a question of what is the true value of athletics at IVCC? Interviews from students, athletes, teachers, and administration about the value of athletics have been conducted to shed some light to this question.

In an interview with President Jerry Corcoran, he reminisced his experiences in college: “Coming from a high school of 350 and moving on to a university of 35,000 was a bit of an adjustment, however by living in dorms and attending athletic and cultural events together, many of us built a network of friends that will last a lifetime.”

Student athlete Brandon Pietrowski commented on how supportive his network of friends are to him: “I have a lot of friends that attend home games. The support from the student body has been amazing so far. We always have a lot more fans than the other schools we travel to.” Athletes Nick Harsted and Levi Ericson agreed with Brandon with his feeling of strong support from family and friends.

Athletic Director and men’s basketball coach Tommy Canale said, “School spirit exists when the student body is alive and active. This creates energy to classrooms, teachers, community, and fans.”

Even with a strong support of athletics from the community, not everyone agrees in the benefit of athletics. A professor at IVCC Amanda Cook-Fesperman answered the question are athletics important: “Not really. Very few people actually attend games and the cost to keep athletics is too high and effects the rest of the student body.”

Corcoran reminds us that college is an arena where we listen to differing views and draw our own conclusions. He continues saying there is no right or wrong viewpoint on a sensitive issue like the cost and benefit of athletics.

Not one individual’s opinion about the value of athletics will be the same, making it difficult to make a financial decision.

Which brings up another question: do athletics bring any financial or other benefits to

“My personal feeling is that some of our student athletes may not have pursued postsecondary education were it n ot for their athletic talents,” said Corcoran. All four of the athletes interviewed said that if IVCC did not have their sport they would have gone to another school to play.

IVCC student athlete Olivia Harcar was offered a full scholarship for athletics by IVCC and Lincoln Land Community College.

She said if IVCC was not going to pay for her tuition, then she would have went elsewhere. For these students their decision to attend IVCC was made by extracurriculars and the support that
was offered to them.

Canale feels that sports an d enrollment have a strong connection saying, “Other schools are pouring money into sports for enrollment reasons and their teams are doing well which has increased enrollment. More publicity, the more kids want to come to a school.”

A strong athletic program can help with other financial opp ortunities as well, explains Corcoran: “We just wrapped up IVCC’s first ever capital campaign where we successfully raised over $2.1 million for first-class equipment in our new Community Technology Center. One of the reasons why so many people stepped forward and contributed was because of their wonderful memories while attending IVCC. It’s no coincidence that many of our IVCC Foundation Hall of Famers were student athletes on some of the greatest teams in our college’s history.”

Any program improves the strength of a college but holds a cost as well. Corcoran added, “As our CFO reminds us, everything goes in cycles and right now things are a bit tight because of the drop in enrollments.”

As decisions are made for the future o f IVCC there are man y opinions and costs to take into
consideration for any program. While looking at the benefits of athletics, finding how much or how little support is fair and economical for IVCC and its budget lies in the hands of the administration.