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Memorial University's varsity athletics program is getting an annual $275,000 increase to its funding over the next five years. Basketball coaches Doug Partridge and Peter Benoite say the extra money will alleviate budget pressures and allow them to build better teams.
Hoops coaches excited about extra money, say it will ease fundraising pressures and eliminate ‘begging’
They’re not exactly sure how it will be disbursed, but Memorial University’s full-time basketball coaches are more than pleased with the infusion of cash to their varsity athletic programs.
Gary Kachanoski, the president and vice-chancellor of Memorial, announced at the university’s awards ceremony last week that MUN is investing $275,000 in varsity athletics. Presumably, every varsity team will get a piece of the financial pie.
This comes in response to the recommendations out of the 2013 Presidents Task Force on Competitive Sport at Memorial.
The financial investment will mean funds to hire a full-time women’s volleyball coach, an additional $50,000 for athletic scholarships, increased support for off-season competition and more resources for recruitment.
Kachanoski maintains, “Our athletes and the varsity program are a very important part of who we are as a university.
“They are out there in the community, they are mentors and they represent our commitment to community engagement and to the people of the province,” said the university president.
Memorial’s women’s basketball coach, Doug Partridge, understands that the $275,000 will be available over each of the next five years after which time the new funding program will be assessed.
“Beyond the cash investment, which I’m really pleased with,” said Partridge, “it’s way more important that the university, at its highest level, is saying that we value athletics. We understand everything athletics does for this university and we are willing to invest in it.
“That statement is way more important than the money itself.”
Having said that, Partridge added with a chuckle, “The money is a big deal. I don’t want to play that any other way. I don’t want to be quoted as saying any other thing. The money is a big deal.”
So how will it help the veteran mentor?
“It will make my life easier,” said Partridge. “It means I’m not scrambling to find this money every single year. It means we’re not in danger of being over budget. We’re not begging things from people for nothing. It just means now we can do our jobs the way we should.”
The Sea-Hawks’ men’s basketball coach, Peter Benoite, for example, said the new money will make it easier for him to bring in more recruits for a look-see.
Benoite said he’s been bringing in six to eight recruits a year, and now he’s looking at bringing that up to as many as 15.
“Right now, the only ones I can bring in are the ones I’ve got a strong chance of getting. With more money available, I can take a chance on bringing in some players who are being looked at by other schools, but at least now I can give them another option,” he said.
“It will also help us ease our fundraising efforts and let us stretch our own dollar a little more.
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“The more money we have, the more options we have in terms of travel and doing things for the players. It simply makes things easier.”
Benoite said it would be nice to know sooner than later exactly how much money is available and when the program can make use of it.
“The reality is that until we know who the next athletics director is going to be, we probably can’t do much because that person may come in with a whole new vision. So who knows where everything is going to go until that happens?
“My hope is that we’ll know what we have to work with sometime this summer,” added Benoite.
Partridge said the fact that there is no athletics director in place currently, neither varsity sports program at the university has been told exactly what it has in terms of the new funding.
“The best part of all of this,” noted Partridge, “is that now we’ll get a budget every year. Before, you did what you could. You asked for what you could. You tried to get as much as you could and that meant you’d go begging. Now we’ll know what we can and can’t do.”
There’s been no indication from the university as to when the new athletics director will be named.
Bill Thistle has been working as an “interim” director of athletics while the university finds a full-time director to replace Michelle Healey, who moved on to the provincial government’s recreation and sports division Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.