Economy puts squeeze on teams

Education in the city of Tallahassee has felt the heat of budget cuts over the past few months. Both Florida A&M University and Florida State University have had to put many clubs and organizations on the chopping block. Athletic teams at FAMU seem to be breathing easier.

According to senior Leroy Vann, 22, from Tampa, the Rattler football team has not felt the squeeze as the university has tightened its wallet.

“I don’t think it will affect the team,” said the cornerback. “But it might have an effect on the [Athletic] Department.”

In recent reports discovered by USA Today, spending for college sports is at an all time high. Expenditures in 2004 barely topped $31 million among Football Bowl Subdivision schools. In 2007, that number skyrocketed to $42.4 million.

Although FAMU is not among FBS schools, the money is still there to spend. While departments within the school are cutting full programs and classes, sports programs are trying their best to make do with what they have.

“We are having to cut back on tournaments,” said head golf coach, Marvin Green Jr. “Local golf courses are also helping us and letting us practice for free.”

FAMU covers the tab for its own golf team to practice for free at local country clubs like Southwood and Killearn Country Club. Green said that outside sponsors like Titleist and Footjoy help the golf team with their expenses. He admits that because the team is small, outside of travel expenses they have not had to deal with budget setbacks.

Since the FAMU board of trustees voted to approve the preliminary operational budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, it left a deep hole of $16.2 million, which is considerably less than what FAMU was given last fiscal year.

Alvin Hollins, athletic sports information director, said that every sport has had to make modifications due to budget cuts.

“We are definitely looking at targeting in-state students to help cut cost,” said Hollins. “For one out-of-state student we could get multiple in-states students, which is much more economical.”

Hollins said that scholarships, travel expenses and equipment budgets are going to be the hardest hit by the budget cuts.

“We are going to have to play games closer to home,” said Hollins. “Yes, we will be able to make a few new purchases here and there but we are also going to have to work with what we have.”

Although student fees and ticket sales contribute to the athletic department budget, it is not enough to cover the shortcomings. Outside sponsorship from local and corporate businesses is always welcome but due to the recent condition of the economy not many businesses are able to lend a helping hand.