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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Administration pledges no tuition increase with new sports

Based on the budget plans and documentation presented to the board of trustees, students should not see an increase in tuition to fund the four new NCAA Division II sports.

Based on financial charts athletic director Forrest Karr presented to the board, the new sports additions, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, women’s golf and women’s lacrosse, are expected to bring in 92 students to the university. In addition, they are relatively low-cost sports.

Karr said students often have the idea that universities spend a lot of money on college athletes by providing them with large scholarships, which isn’t the case.

“Once [you] understand the Division II model, which is a real partial scholarship model, and the average student athlete is on less than a third of a scholarship, then you see all the tuition coming into the university to help support the expense side,” Karr said. “That’s what makes it pencil out. That’s what makes it work financially.”

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Even though the new sports are not expected to bring in ticket sales, Karr said the tuition from the new athletes will cancel out the costs of the additional sports. This includes athletic fees such as coaches’ pay, scholarship funds, gear and travel costs.

Karr said the athletic department took into account the surrounding conference teams to decide which sports made the most sense to add at NMU. The department wanted to include athletics that could compete against area teams.

For instance, men’s swimming and diving was included, because swimming teams often won’t travel unless they can bring both their men’s and women’s rosters to tournaments.

By adding a men’s team, NMU could offer the women’s swimming and diving coaches as part of the new staff, while increasing the opportunity to bring in new teams for tournaments.

“It will make it a little bit easier for us, especially to schedule home meets and to get in the every-other-year rotations, where we go somewhere one year and they come the next,” Karr said. “It’s just more efficient to put everybody on a bus and you still have one bus driver and one head coach.”

Bridget Carter, the associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, has been a part of the planning from the beginning.

Carter said the addition of new sports is a great way to bring in new students to the university. If any student athletes choose to leave NMU, coaches are able to recruit students to fill those positions, which means the total number of student athletes should remain relatively stable.

“It’s not necessarily a model that benefits athletics in terms of us getting something from it, but it’s a way that we were able to help when the university was looking for solutions,” Carter said. “We were able to say we could get this many students, this is how much it would cost and we can guarantee that we are going to have these rosters.”

The athletic department was also required to factor in NCAA Title IX compliance laws.

By NCAA standards, universities need to have an equal ratio of men to women competitors in relation to the ratio of men and women on the college campus.

In addition, the ratio of scholarships granted needs to be factored in.

Karr said the board expressed concerns about whether more men’s athletic scholarships should be added.

However, Karr said the men’s scholarships need to be limited to be in compliance with Title IX and gender equity responsibilities.

“The idea behind this plan is to add new students, new full-time, baccalaureate degree-seeking students on both the men’s and the women’s side,” Karr said. “We’re basically spreading fixed costs in a more efficient manner. We’re spreading it across more student athletes. More student athletes are seeing the benefits of things that we are already paying for. That was kind of the idea.”

Chad Wittfeldt, junior business and entrepreneurship major, said he would be interested in watching the women’s lacrosse team.

Wittfeldt also said he thought the addition of the new sports was a good move. “I don’t have any concerns, I think that’s good,” Wittfeldt said. “I just kind of feel like, why wouldn’t they have them from the beginning, in a sense.”

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