Club sports lack funding

Jenny Rohl/The News
Members of the rowing team, one of the University’s four club sports, practice using rowing machines.Jenny Rohl/The News Members of the rowing team, one of the University’s four club sports, practice using rowing machines.

Story by Julia Mazzuca, Staff writer

Jenny Rohl/The News Members of the rowing team, one of the University’s four club sports, practice using rowing machines.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Members of the rowing team, one of the University’s four club sports, practice using rowing machines.

Murray State club sports struggle to continue because of minimum funding from the University and an inconsistent willingness from students to pay for the club sports.

Steve Leitch, director of Campus Recreation, explained how the University only has four successful clubs to date: rowing, baseball, ultimate Frisbee and cycling.

“In order to start a club, it takes a lot of work to get it going and to get it established,” Leitch said. “Because we don’t have a student fee that funds club sports, money can be an issue.”

A club sport is defined as any competitive sports that are regulated by students, rather than an intercollegiate athletic association, according to Leitch.

The only fee Murray State has that is designated toward campus recreation for the students is the athletic fee.

This fee covers the student costs for the Wellness Center, technology within the Wellness Center and the ability for students to get into varsity athletic games for free.

  There is a Campus Recreation Fund that has some budget, but with budget cuts from two years ago, some dollars had to be taken out of the fund said Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs.

“Club sports are designed to be funded by the students who are wanting to pay,” Robertson said, “If you have that interest, you should want to pay.”

Some students definitely have the interest, but being able to pay can be a problem for college students who are struggling to make ends meet.

Claire May, a captain of the rowing team, has encountered this problem before.

“If rowers are unable to pay their dues, then we set up payment plans for them or we ask our alumni to sponsor a rower for a semester,” May said.

The option of alumni sponsoring a rower comes from the longevity of the club, which began 19 years ago.

“It is common for some passionate people to do all the leg work in getting the club going, but then they graduate and nothing of the club is left,” Leitch said.

The rowing team has been able to continue as a club for so long because of the long line of alumni that stands behind the current team, Robertson said.

Murray State, a University booming with 11,000 students, only has four club sports. Schools such as Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky have many more.

Western Kentucky University is estimated to have 21,000 students and also has 19 club sports clubs, according to their club sports page on their website.

The University of Kentucky has 21,441 students and has 49 sports clubs, according to its website.

Although these schools have more students than Murray State, there still is a gray area as to why Murray State has such a low amount of club sports. 

One difference between these schools and Murray State is the funding behind it.

Western Kentucky University has a student activities fee that is included in a student’s tuition and fees that are paid annually.

When a club sport needs funding, they have the chance to appeal to the student government and ask to receive some of the money, raised by the fee.

The University of Kentucky has a $75 fee that is taken out of student fees and partly given to the campus recreation fund which helps assist club sports as needed.

All three schools’ club sports fund raise for themselves, Western Kentucky and the University of Kentucky just receive more assistance from students than Murray State.

Olivia Jacks, member of the rowing team, has seen the benefits of being on a team at Murray State.

“‘The Murray State rowing team is less like a team and more like a family,” Jacks said. “I know that I can always count on them to have my back and I wouldn’t trade me experience with the rowing team for anything else.”