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The IVCC administration has a decision to make about the future of the school’s athletic program.
Either IVCC officials have to be fully committed to athletics, or they have to start cutting programs or dropping athletics all together.
They can’t continue to do it halfway like they are attempting to do right now.
Like many schools and businesses, IVCC is facing financial constraints, which led the administration to reduce tuition waivers, freeze head coaches’ salaries and cut assistant coaches’ pay in all sports. This is after nearly cutting tennis before finding a volunteer head coach in Julie Milota.
All that significantly impacts IVCC’s ability to field competitive teams.
By cutting tuition waivers, it limits the number of talented athletes each sport will be able to recruit.
The top athletes from the area and beyond are going to find a school that will provide a scholarship, leaving the Eagles with the leftovers, and that’s no way to build a winning team.
By freezing head coaches’ salaries and cutting assistant coaches’ pay, it limits the pool of candidates willing to put in the long hours required to recruit, run practices, coach games and perform all the other duties required of a junior college coach.
The recent budget-conscious decisions have already cost the school one successful coach in Pat Cinotte, who resigned last week because he doesn’t like the direction IVCC’s athletic department is heading.
Cinotte led the IVCC women’s basketball team to a 103-29 record in four seasons, guiding the Lady Eagles to two NJCAA National Tournament appearances and a co-Arrowhead Conference title.
Whoever IVCC hires to replace him is going to face quite the challenge trying to maintain the success level with limited resources.
Athletics at IVCC don’t produce school spirit or community involvement like they do at other schools.
Attendance is low even when the Eagles have competitive teams, and taking away scholarships and coaches’ pay is going to make teams worse and lower attendance.
The Eagles aren’t bringing home national championships — or even conference championships and winning seasons in some sports — and only a handful of IVCC athletes earn athletic scholarships to four-year schools.
So are sports a sound investment at IVCC?
Maybe not, and maybe it’s time to drop the athletics program, or at least a few sports.
But if IVCC wants to build school and community spirit through sports — and provide athletic opportunities to area students along with the academic opportunities — then it has to give its teams a chance to be competitive with full resources.
It’s time to decide.
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.