Author: Alex Nieves
Tiger Club, coaches seeking increased endowment for department
The Occidental College Athletics Department’s funding has continually been a work in progress. While the school fields 21 varsity teams and is constantly in the process of upgrading facilities and team amenities, the endowment is trending down. This makes it difficult when it comes to team costs, upkeep and attracting new student-athletes.
Athletics had about $1 million at their disposal last year to support the various sports teams at the school, according to Athletics Director Jaime Hoffman. Just like any other major institution, the success of the sports programs hinges on the monetary support that they receive. Hoffman and school administrators such as Director of Annual Giving Dana Valk, are always hard at work trying to find ways to increase the funds that come in to support the college.
The Athletics Department funds its activities through donor support, fundraisers, and facility rentals. Facilities are rented out to high school teams, club teams, and film crews. Funds from renting out Patterson Field net a fairly certain amount of money each year, but donor support and Tiger Club, the schools’ boosters, have the largest affect on the funding situation at Occidental.
Booster clubs are an extremely integral part of the collegiate athletics landscape. The amount of booster support affects many aspects of an athletics department, from the ability to run intramural sports, to team travel and even to the hiring of coaches.
Members of the Tiger Club, such as President and former All-American football and basketball standout Paul Finchamp, are always looking for more support and hope to raise total donations from just over $400,000 in 2011-2012 to over $500,000 for the 2012-2013 year. However, there are many challenges that make this a difficult proposition for Occidental.
Occidental is lost in an ocean of sports activity, being in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles. With a vast number of professional sports teams and major universities like the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) in the area, it is very difficult for a small, Division III college to gain major support. Despite this, boosters still have high hopes for what the future of Occidental Athletics can hold.
“We don’t care to be USC but I still want to be a magnet that draws people here to play and watch and celebrate that Oxy experience,” Finchamp said. “If we could raise more money we could do more, plain and simple.”
The funds that the athletics department raise cover a variety of expenses within the department. As stated on the Occidental webpage for the Tiger Club, these expenses include salaries for assistant coaches, new equipment, and travel and recruiting expenses.
These funds also support projects for the general population of the school, such as intramural sports and recreational equipment that all students and faculty can use. Capital projects are another major recipient of athletic department funds. These projects usually cover the issues of renovation and development of new athletic facilities.
The funds for capital projects are separate from annual funds, which is the category that all of the previously mentioned funded areas fall under. Capital projects have the ability to have the greatest impact on athletics at Occidental, as top-notch facilities will set it apart from the large number of Division III schools that are similar in size and resources. Many involved with the athletics department recognize this issue.
“Last year I was at Kenyon [College] in Ohio and saw their $75 million athletic facility and I want to see something of that caliber at Oxy,” Finchamp said. “To get athletes of that caliber attracted to [Occidental]… a first-class athletic facility would be tops.”
No matter what project it is currently working on, the mission of the Occidental College Athletics Department will continue to be the best student-athlete experience possible, which certainly depends on funding.
“Obviously, the greater the resources, the more we can do to enhance the student-athlete experience,” Hoffman said. “The student-athlete experience is an integral part of a vibrant liberal arts campus.”
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