March 21, 2002
Members Present: Margaret Kuchenreuther
(chair), Clare Strand, Ken Crandall, LeAnn Dean, Jim VanAlstine, Maddy Maxeiner,
Trish Welte, Lowell Rasmussen, Pam Gades, Phoebe Trepp
Absent: Kevin Ely, Dennis Templeman, Ken Hodgson, Ferolyn Angell
Sam Schuman, Sandy Olson-Loy
(In these minutes: future directions for the athletics program and VCF position)
Schuman reported on some current developments in our intercollegiate athletics program and conference options. He stated that UMM's primary mission is to provide a liberal arts education of uncompromising rigor and quality. Similarly, the primary mission of our intercollegiate athletics program is to provide a quality experience for our student athletes, and to enrich the campus experience for all students. He also stated that in the past UMM has been affiliated with both the NCAA Division III and with the NAIA. In the early 1990s our conference, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, decided to switch from the NAIA to the NCAA. At that time, UMM cast its vote to join Div. III of the NCAA, but the remainder of our conference chose Div. II. In the decade since that decision, UMM has struggled with intercollegiate athletics. Until three years ago, we gave no athletic scholarships, while our conference opponents developed scholarship programs which now average over a quarter-million dollars each per year. Four years ago, Schuman convened an "Athletics Task Force" to take a careful look at our program and make some recommendations regarding conference options. They concluded that, since there was no viable NCAA Div. III league realistically nearby that would accept us as members, we needed to move towards an athletics scholarship program that might make us more competitive within the NSIC and NCAA Div. II. He formulated a proposal to create "Special Talent Scholarships" in response to the conclusion of the Task Force. In the first year, UMM awarded $19,000 of athletic aid. In the second, $60,000, and in the third, $75,000. All money for athletic aid has come from private donations; no University operating funds may be used for this purpose. Solicited funds have been divided by this formula: 75% to athletics scholarships and 25% to other special talents; 50/50 between men's and women's sports.
To help UMM make a good decision about our future strategic directions for athletics, we engaged Dr. Betsy Alden, a leading athletics consultant. Her analysis included overall institutional enrollment, current and projected departmental expenditures, team operating costs, coaches' salary data, and athletics aid, as well as institutional history, mission, and culture. Dr. Alden has recommended that we move to Div. III. She also notes that the increase in university resources allocated to athletics would need to be from the current 2.5% of our annual operating budget to 6.3%.
The choice to remain in the NSIC and Div. II, or to return to our earlier affiliation with Div. III must be made fairly quickly. Schuman plans to consult with the appropriate college governance groups (Consultative Committee, CRPC, Admin Group, and Student Services Committee) as well as current student athletes and coaches, alumni, and others. Schuman also invited people to communicate with him concerning our strategic directions for the future of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Kuchenreuther wondered how students could continue to have a positive experience in athletics if we remain this division. She believes the student experience will improve if we were matched to schools similar to UMM. The only downside is that most people haven't heard of some of the schools we would be playing. She believes going Div. III is paramount even if we need to go independent.
Crandall said several coaches are concerned that some of the schools in the league don’t compare to UMM academically. He believes we should stay in Div. II but only if we can commit the money we need to. He doesn't want to go Div. III just to be Div. III., due to his concern about the league. He also added that a few students are hurt about leaving Div. II. We need to ask ourselves if we want to be at the top of the UMAC or if we want to be strong regionally and nationally. One of Crandall's fears is that there will be a mass exodus of students in we move to Div. III.
Welte has also heard from students who feel UMM hasn't given Div. II a chance. She asked Schuman if he was concerned whether this league affiliation would have an impact on our academic image. He responded that he is not.
Strand had a couple of observations: to what extent was UMM able to commit funds once we became Div. II? She also reminded the committee that the Title IX compliance fits with UMM's philosophy. Personally it doesn't matter to her if we go Div. II or Div. III. She is interested to know what the student body thinks and how their feelings would factor into everything.
Phoebe Trepp, a new student member, said she was in volleyball for two years and even though we would be in an easier division, it's not always the greatest feeling to win every game. She believes some of the schools wouldn't be competitive and thinks UMM should go Div. III.
VanAlstine wants our athletes to be proud of what they do and would like to see UMM get back to the heyday of the earlier days when UMM was Div. III.
Vice Chancellor for Finance
Schuman said he would like to decide what to do with the VCF position. He believes a VCF will not bring us more money, no matter how skilled he/she is. Our income comes from two places: tuition and legislative allocation. He also thinks that a VCF cannot do detailed long-range planning for UMM. He added that last year, we were given no freedom on compensation distribution from the Twin Cities and the directions from them vary widely from year to year. He added we can try to influence them but we have not been successful in doing so. In fact, over the past 20 years, none of the former VCF's were able to do that and under their leadership, we ran up a $3 million debt. Under the current leadership, we are reducing that debt. What a VCF can do is communicate fiscal situations of the institution to all constituents in a clear, timely manner and play a major role in internal allocations. Schuman believes UMM would be better served by having a good bookkeeper than a fiscal philosopher and his impulse is to get a good fiscal officer who can communicate well with campus groups.
Strand said fundamentally she disagrees with Schuman.
She believes we need a controller and someone who is willing to get in the
faces of the people on the Twin Cities campus. She believes there are
misconceptions in the Twin Cities about the Morris campus and thinks we need
someone who can pay close attention to what's happening, perhaps by creating
VanAlstine thinks we need a professional controller who can think strategically as well as financially, and stressed the importance of this position to our campus.
Kuchenreuther reminded Schuman that he himself has said that keeping track of income and expense, and trying to keep up with the financial paperwork coming from the Twin Cities, is more than enough work for one person. She believes, therefore, that UMM needs additional staffing in the area of finance; ideally someone who is not tied to the daily bookkeeping, but someone who has the time and expertise to do long-term thinking and to strategize. Crandall said a major downfall at UMM is that too many people have too much to do, and wondered if this was another of those one positions. Can one person actually do all that needs to be done? Schuman plans to consult with other campus groups about this position.
Adjourned at 9:40 a.m.