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Budget cuts hit varsity teams

Ryerson’s Athletics department forced to tighten its belt

By Michelle Osborne

Funding cutbacks will force varsity teams to pay for fitness assessments and programs or go without, according to the Ryerson Athletic Department’s new budget. 

Bob Fullerton, director of athletics at Ryerson, said each varsity program at Ryerson will have to fork over $21.60 per team member for the assessments at the Ryerson Athletic Centre. 

“It was an enrichment to the programs that we certainly believed in,” said Fullerton. “Some coaches may well find it in their budget. But these [services] aren’t that well-established with the athletes. It was an improvement we were trying to make, and some more than others looked upon it as important. “

The fee allows the RAC to offset the costs for part-time fitness centre staff who take over the floor while fitness specialists monitor the assessments. Jeff Boris, a fitness specialist at the RAC, says he isn’t optimistic that the athletic programs will budget for the tests.

“I can’t see it happening,” said Boris. “Even when the program wasn’t being paid for, it wasn’t taken advantage of. We were setting our time aside for varsity athletes to come in, and they weren’t showing up. We lost a lot of time and revenue that way.”

The fitness assessment puts the athlete through several strength and endurance tests, including a 12-minute run, a fat ratio test, and a flexibility test. The fitness centre takes the team’s results to set up a fitness program for them, then re-test the team at mid-season.

One team that took advantage of the service, said Boris, was the Rams hockey team. “We tested them pretty regularly and did programs for them,” said Boris. “We still try to help them out as much as we can, but the level of expertise won’t be quite the same.”

Some veteran hockey team members have already undergone fitness assessments designed by the coaches this year. Eric Tonellato, a third-year business administration student and Rams hockey player, said the lack of fitness testing won’t affect the upcoming season because most athletes didn’t take it seriously.

“I think they are important,” said Tonellato. “They show the level of fitness that the [teams] have every year — but I don’t think it’s going to hinder our program. If we didn’t have them at all, I don’t think it would make that much of a difference.”

Other cuts to the department include eliminating the full-time Sports Information Officer with part-time students. The Officer dealt with public and media relations for Ryerson sports. Tonellato thinks that’s the area where athletics at Ryerson should try to expand.  

“I think we could market,” said Tonellato. “A little more media coverage in local newspapers, get better facilities, which will hopefully attract better athletes to our programs.”

Fullerton said the RAC may soon have to face some serious cuts as well. Non-student membership has gone down to less than 950 in 1995 from 1200 in 1992. “We’re operating, so we can keep the personnel there and offer the services,” said Fullerton. “You have to make these decisions. If you cut back to save some dough, do you lose some members? We’re in a business where people vote with their feet.”

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