Keith Ryan was the ultimate lacrosse star in high school and was heavily recruited to play for Division I teams. But when it came down to it, he decided to come to the University of Miami because he felt the men’s lacrosse club was a better fit.
Unfortunately for Ryan and 34 other members of the lacrosse club, their season may be cut short partly because the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) has run out of money for the rest of the semester. The team was counting on SAFAC, which funds student organizations, to help out with its budget of $13,000. The money goes to travel, lodging, equipment, uniforms, referees and the league entry fee.
“The students on the team are extremely hurt,” head coach Alex Schultes said. “Most of the other teams that we go up against are part of a heavily-funded program. This whole situation just widens the disparity.”
The news was a letdown for the club, which is coming off the best season in its history. In 2010, the club was ranked in the top 25 for three weeks and reached the top 10 for one week. UM is a member of the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) and competes regionally in the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC).
The team, which began its season on Feb. 5, has an ambitious 13-game schedule, but it currently doesn’t have enough money to play all of them. Among the games the club may miss are away games against Nebraska and Central Florida in Orlando and Alabama and South Carolina in Atlanta.
“Missing these games could have severe consequences for the club,” Ryan said. “The MCLA will fine and could potentially suspend us from the league if they feel that we have become unreliable.”
The funding situation came as a surprise to Schultes, who said that he has never seen this happen to a team in his many years of coaching.
In the past, SAFAC has given the club money for 10 jerseys, though there are 35 students on the team. The team made up the difference through fundraising and donations. Now the members must do it again.
Laura Stott, director of student activities and student organizations, believes people shouldn’t blame SAFAC for this issue. She said the club should have worked harder to have its budget request in sooner and that SAFAC sent out multiple e-mails in the beginning of the fall 2010 semester stating that funding requests should be sent in early. According to Stott, the lacrosse club didn’t get their budget in on time.
“We stopped funding Feb. 2 and the team knew that budgets were not guaranteed for spring,” she said.
Schultes said the problem was that lacrosse is a spring sport and the league wants schedules to be finalized in December.
“It would have been impossible for us to even have the request in before our usual deadline because our schedules would not have had our permanent schedules,” Schultes said. “It appears that SAFAC just started handing out money on a case-by-case basis and because of the timing, our team was at a disadvantage.”
In addition to SAFAC, the team has one other major supporter, Rhonda DuBord, the associate director of the wellness center. The center has provided money for the team to operate in the past and continues to support it as much as possible.
“We cannot thank them enough for supporting us throughout the years,” said junior Andrew Joseph, a member of the lacrosse club.
Brittany Weiner may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.