Operating expenses push school athletes to do more: The struggle for athletes to make ends meet in a changing collegiate world requires them to take on additional tasks

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Alyssa Synakowski, Sports Features Editor, @synakowsk

First appeared in print on September 1, 2014.

The field of college athletics is changing. In an effort to compete gain prestige, win more championships, make more money, major universities have been willing to buy themselves out of deals with their conference and as a result, break years long rivalries in the process.

A four-team playoff recently replaced the Bowl Championship series in college football, the same teams are still winning titles, and Maryland—a founding member of the Athletic Coast Conference in 1953—will be competing in its first season with the Big Ten after being fined a $52 million fee by the ACC.

Utah Valley University athletics are trying to survive in this changing world of college sports. According to USA Today, UVU’s revenue currently ranks 201st out of 230 public universities that have operating Division I athletic programs. They bring in $10,053,547 a year and spend $9,714,656 a year on expenses.

UVU has awarded nearly 275 athletic scholarships to students on campus, but of those, only 13 men’s basketball, 15 women’s basketball, and 12 volleyball scholarships are actually awarded a full-ride.

A key to their survival success is the Wolverine Club, a non-profit organization that is funded by private contributions in order to provide those scholarships.

“We have a younger athletic department as far as NCAA Division I goes, so there are growing pains and so we have also put forth efforts to help increase those numbers of donations,” said Micah Howard, executive director of the club.

The school has seen a significant increase in donors since Howard took the position in 2012. In the 2012-13 academic year, there were 600-plus donors contributing to the Wolverine Club. That jumped to over 800 donors in 2013-14, and he is now hopeful they will get to all-time high of 1,000 donors this year, which would be an incredible feat for a university of its size.

“Obviously some exciting events have taken place the last two years with us announcing our acceptance into the WAC and then this last year being in the WAC,” explained Howard. “I think people in the community are recognizing UVU’s growth and also realizing this is more of a place to be. It’s a good place to send their kids to go to school.

Student athletes here do not just compete for their scholarships in their sport but they are helping the cause by making the efforts to raise money for the Wolverine Club. The 200-plus athletes have reached out through their connections to increase awareness of the opportunity to donate.

Women’s soccer, women’s golf, and softball have actually brought in phone numbers of their connections in order to hold telethons and reach out to the community through a more genuine manner.

Howard, who has experience in-season ticket sales, gave the athletes a mini training in asking for financial assistance and being sincere in thanking every person they called.

Through the efforts of many, UVU will survive the chaotic world that is college athletics. To donate, visit wolverinegreen.com.

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