Athletic department affected by budget cuts made at Baker University

Story by Kyle Davis

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The Baker University athletic department is not exempt from budget cuts the rest of the university is dealing with.

Assistant Athletic Director Theresa Yetmar said the department has cut 7.3 percent from the athletic budget to date. She added that the department has cut scholarship money 8-15 percent from last year’s to this year’s recruiting class.

“Our lifeline at Baker, and at every school this size, is athletics. It’s a false choice to say you chose between academics and athletics. They are too closely related,” Bruce Anderson, head tennis coach, said. “No student-athlete is going to come to Baker if they can’t get a good education, but no student-athlete is going to come to Baker unless they can do the kind of sports they want to do.”

Anderson, associate professor of political science, and Karen Exon, professor of health, sport and human performance, have both volunteered to step down from their teaching positions and focus solely on coaching their respective programs, tennis and golf.

“They both have done a tremendous job with both of our programs, offering stability, great academics. They do a good job recruiting the type of person that can succeed at Baker,” Yetmar said. “So, they expressed interest in wanting to remain a part of athletics and our programs. I was completely for it.”

Fundraising by each team plays a large part in the sports budget, with teams working at Kansas City Chiefs and University of Kansas games. Coaches, like Exon, also raise money for their programs. Exon is a marathon kayaker and competes in a 340-mile marathon race down the Missouri River. Last year, Exon said she raised more than $1,000 for the golf program.

“I believe between my restricted funds, the ones that I’ve raised, and the operational budget that remains for me, that we will be OK in the spring,” Exon said. “We’re going to watch our pennies.”

Questions have risen about adding two new programs this year, wrestling and bowling, while the economic times have forced everyone to cut back. Wrestling is in its first season of existence, but Yetmar said the program was a “three to five year labor of love” for former athletic director Dan Harris, who fundraised $50,000 for equipment, including mats, uniforms and new score clocks.

"The cost of running a wrestling program is not high, or a bowling program," Mike Grossner, head football coach and assistant athletic director, said. "The revenue is above the cost. So as long as we are doing that as an athletic program, we're helping the institution."<br/>Out of the entire freshman class new to Baker this year, 74 percent of the students were student-athletes.Out of the entire freshman class new to Baker this year, 74 percent of the students were student-athletes.
Out of the entire freshman class new to Baker this year, 74 percent of the students were student-athletes.

Yetmar said the department is trying to be sensitive to all constituent groups on campus and making decisions that maintain the level of excellence at Baker.

"It's all about the student-athlete. We're here to serve, here to try and make it a great experience for them," she said. "We want to be a classy outfit, so we're not going to sacrifice what we're offering, we're just going to have to work harder to make that happen."<br/>