Despite a strong emphasis on academic endeavors, The Gregory School had always been able to provide its athletes with a fantastic experience. From purchasing new uniforms and equipment consistently to funding generous travel plans, our student athletes have grown accustomed to stellar treatment.
However, just like the name of the school, it looks like this has changed. The athletic department has clearly cut back during the 2014-15 school year.
Teams have been taking vans to most games in Tucson, and even when they do charter a bus, they are smaller than previous years. Similarly, almost every sports team has seen additional cutbacks.
A prime example is the men’s baseball team, where I have seen the effects of these new budgetary constraints firsthand. For all three previous years I have played baseball we have gone to a Phoenix tournament with the softball team.
This year, the baseball team is not going to the tournament, and there is no softball team at all. The athletic department has gone from being able to fully fund two teams to not funding either.
However, administrators refuse to call these actions cutbacks. Rather, Bussiness Manager Meryl Henkel said,“We are trying to be more efficient.” TGS Athletic Director Vic Acuña flatly denied any budget cuts, and said, “There is no difference [in athletic spending]. The athletic department funds all necessary equipment, uniforms and transportation for all TGS teams.”
Acuna also said there haven’t been any changes in the travel plans. “We use buses for our larger teams and take advantage of the school vans when they are available. The logistics are such that it is sometimes necessary to use a bus for longer travel, or when the vans are not available,” said Acuña. As traveling is a huge part of the costs, the school spent about $42,000 last year on transportation. So, in their quest for improved efficiency, that transportation is a major focal point. Henkel said, “To charter one bus is about $400, so if we can find cheaper, suitable replacements, we are going to do that.”
On how they determine the athletic budget he said, “We look at previous years from each team, and adjust it from there. Each sport requires different year to year costs.”
Student athletes do not agree. Senior Danny Benson said, “You can definitely tell they are trying to cut back on spending. We take smaller buses, and vans, and we didn’t get to go to our annual baseball tournament.” Benson added, “I understand not wanting to spend too much money, but we could at least be told ahead of time.”
The athletic department has other expenses in addition to transportation and equipment; facility maintenance is also an issue. The TGS gym has building problems, like leaks and older equipment, and could use several upgrades.
Acuña said, “Overall the gym is in great condition. I don’t necessarily think we have problems. There are, however, some things that I would like to do, such as renovate the weight room and get new bleachers.”
Henkel added, “As we look ahead to the future, there are things we have plans for. The batting cage could use work, and the idea of an exercise facility for students and faculty is on our minds.”
As the school ushers in a new era, the athletic department is following suit. Acuna and Henkel are pursuing a financially efficient department, and that has come with less luxuries for sports teams.
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