Memorial University's varsity athletics program is healthy and growing despite obstacles other schools in the Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) Conference do not have to deal with.
For example, no AUS school has as much air travel as MUN and while that's not going to change, Memorial's director of athletics is looking for ways to ease that particular financial burden.
"Memorial's travel would definitely be the highest from a regular-season perspective," said Michelle Healey, "and I don't think other AUS schools would come close when you compare team travel via bus and via air.
"The reality is, when we fly into various destinations, we also have ground transportation costs."
Healey pointed out the overall cost of travel impacts things like roster size on the road.
"Teams travelling by bus can bring along assistant coaches and full-team rosters with very little added cost, compared to Memorial that would require airline tickets for every extra person we take on the road."
MUN competes against teams from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in the AUS conference.
"With the economy the way it has been and the lack of competition in the airline market the past couple of seasons, air travel costs have been high," said Healey.
"Now that Porter Airlines has stabilized its position in the market, that competition certainly helps reduce airline ticket prices," said Healey. "A third carrier also provides opportunity for partnership with a preferred carrier, and we are currently exploring some options for next year that should help as well.
"I'd really like to try and provide our teams with an opportunity to take an extra athlete or assistant coach on road trips in 2010-11," said Healey.
That means finding extra dollars somewhere.
As Healey explains it, varsity athletics, like all other units and departments on campus, submits a budget proposal seeking funding for the succeeding year. Athletics submits its budget proposal to the office of the Vice-President Academic (VPA).
MUN's budget for varsity athletics is less than half of one per cent of the overall VPA allocation. MUN's varsity expenditures for 2008-09 was $868,762 and a big chunk of that budget ($596,952) went towards the team's travel costs, which are substantially higher than the other AUS schools.
"I'm not sure exactly where we would fall with respect to other schools," said Healey, in regards to other AUS athletic budgets, "but school budgets would definitely vary based on sport offerings, for example.
"I'm not sure if numbers can truly be compared as there are so many variant factors between Memorial and other AUS schools.
"Schools with football and hockey would likely have higher budgets as a result of these sports. I think, from an operations perspective, we're likely similar in the types of service we provide to our student athletes."
Healey said many schools have higher athletic scholarship endowments and award budgets simply as a result of alumni giving, "and age of their institution."
Still, Healey said there have been fundamental changes with the addition of support staff within the School of Physical Education and Athletics which has helped establish a much more solid foundation for varsity athletics to use in its future development.
"I believe there is growing interest and solid support for varsity athletics at Memorial, and I'm really happy how we've evolved," said Healey, "particularly in the last five years.
"When I arrived at Memorial," explained Healey, "I was the only full-time employee working in support of our varsity teams.
"Since 2006, we have grown to add a full-time director of athletics, marketing coordinator, athletic therapist and, most recently, a development officer and we also have the former coordinator of athletics position in place."
In addition to extra staff, varsity athletics also received funding increases to help achieve the university's commitment to high performance in the last few years.
"With these dollars, we've made some strides in recruiting, equipment and services, enhanced athlete preparation with mandatory fitness testing, etc.," she said.
"I believe much of the new support we've requested, we've have managed to secure," said Healey. "I also feel that we are currently in a better position than many schools that are facing budget reductions and as a result of economic recession."
Healey said she feels, "really great about the support of senior administration in the work that varsity athletics is doing, and it's evident in their attendance and support of events and initiatives that we organize.
"I don't think we're 100 per cent towards where I'd like MUN athletics to be, but I do think we're on the right path," she said.
Memorial University varsity athletics expenditures for 2008-09:
Men and women $27,299
*Travel figures include playoff and exhibition travel
Head coaches, all sports: $170,706
Assistant coach, all sports: $8,000
Materials, supplies (equipment)
Cross country running (men and women): $0
*Budgets may vary based on playoff participation/tournaments
Officials, minor officials (includes exhibition/tournaments)
Cross-country running (men and women) $0
Wrestling & swimming $0
Rentals (all sports) $13,112
Student assistants (event staff, camp instructors, etc.) $22,781
Membership fees (AUS/CIS/PSO affiliation fees) $17,144
*Figures include expenditures for camps/spring leagues etc.
Source: Memorial University
AUS SCHOOLS TUITION COSTS
(Tuition cost of 10 courses, full course load)
*Cape Breton $5,660
St. Francis $6,290
Saint Mary's $5,580
Mount Allison $6,720
* Nursing and education have higher fees
** Additional fees for engineering and law
*** Fees vary by progam
MUN's ATHLETICS ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF
Michelle Healey: Athletic Director
Shayne Menecola: Coordinator of Varsity Athletics
John Harvey: Marketing Coordinator
Brian Vardy: Development Officer
Colin Wiseman: Assistant Coordinator of Varsity Athletics
Peter Benoite: Men's basketball
Doug Partridge: Women's basketball
Scott Betts: Men's soccer
Walt Mavin: Women's soccer
Luke Harris: Men's volleyball
Terry Mosher: Women's volleyball
Brad Hutton: Men's and Women's Swimming
Art Meaney: Men's and women's cross-country
Kerri-Ann Evely: Men's and women's wrestling