By Grand McDonald and Josh Wingrove
A winless record and a defeated RAC referendum could mean the end of men’s hockey at Ryerson, said the team’s former coach.
“Put two and two together and it appears that the writing is on the wall,” said former coach Ed Kirsten. “We can thank the students at Ryerson for this, and their vote in the referendum.”
Last October’s referendum, which 60 per cent of voters turned down, proposed an increase from $57.17 to $133 in athletics fees and would have eliminated RAC fees, expanded intramural programs and extended RAC hours.
“We are now looking at all of our programs to see if we are spending our money effectively,” said Dave Dubois, program director of sports and recreation. “We have some tough decisions to make over the summer… Cutting a team is an option,” he said. “I don’t think the student body gives a shit, to tell you the truth, whether there’s hockey there or not,” Kirsten said.
On Oct. 4, 2004, Dubois told The Eyeopener that “there is no way we are cutting the hockey team.” He delivered a similar assurance to the hockey players. Rams forward Chris Sutton, who leads the team in scoring, said Dubois met with the team prior to the referendum and assured them they would not be cut.
“Basically his words to us were this team is not going to be folded,'” Sutton said. “He hasn’t said anything about it.” He said he would feel betrayed if his team were to be cut. “I’m bending over backwards for the hockey team and the school,” Sutton said. “I take this personally.”
Terry Haggerty, manager of Interuniversity Sport, has hired a private firm to look at the budget of athletics at Ryerson and make suggestions for maximizing revenue and efficiency. “We have a set amount of money and have to make some decisions and everything is on the line,” he said. “They did say they were going to have some tough decisions to make,” said Kirsten.
Dubois said that Ryerson cannot support all their teams under the current financial structure. The hockey team is 0-20 this season at a cost of $170,000. This cost, which includes travel, facility rentals and part-time coaching salaries, amounts to nearly a quarter of the $700,000 varsity team budget.
Other team costs range from badminton’s $10,000 to basketball’s $100,000. The hockey team fails on several points of the Sport Model for Ryerson University set out three years ago by Dubois. These include the team’s lack of on-campus facilities, the absence of a women’s hockey program, and a lack of a fan base on campus.
On top of these factors, hockey costs the most and wins the least. “I keep adding those things up and I look at it and say, you know what? (The hockey team) might not be there anymore,” Kirsten said. Haggerty said the focus of university sport is winning.
“This isn’t about just participating,” he said. “This is about competitive sports.” In the past, Ryerson has cut other teams such as football, swimming, and squash. “We got out of swimming because people do not come here to swim, they come for a program and happen to swim,” said Haggerty. “Should you send people, to these tournaments, who are going to finish 30th?”
The men’s hockey team has zero points and by any calculation has clearly the worst record in the country. They are a full 14 points behind Ontario’s next worst team, Brock University.
Dubois is awating the findings of the private firm’s audit before making a recommendation. Until then, it’s only speculation. But Haggerty seems to have it figured out. “Money is everything.”