April 16, 2003

Hypocrisy of Assembly Priorities

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This Saturday, one of the biggest Ivy League events is coming to Cornell. At 1 p.m. on Schoellkopf field, the No. 11 men’s lacrosse team will take on the No. 4 Princeton Tigers. Not only will the winner most likely be crowned the Ivy League champion, but they’re also likely to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Parents, fans and townies everywhere are salivating. Heck, my friend Scott, who’s been a lacrosse fan since 8th grade, is driving three hours to cheer on the team and he doesn’t even attend Cornell.

It’s funny if you think about it. When I look at the faces in the crowd on Saturday, I’ll see Scott, I’ll see the parents, and I’ll see one of the greatest acts of hypocrisy at Cornell this year.

For those of you who aren’t keeping up on your current University events, the Student Assembly passed a resolution two weeks ago supporting the men’s hockey team. Whoo – hoo (because it did a lot of good … !). In the same meeting, a similar majority questioned why there was no transportation for students to go to the Frozen Four.

I find that interesting … laughable even. A majority of the SA wanted transportation so students could go to the Frozen Four, yet I’d bet almost anything that the same majority won’t be in the stands this Saturday, nor will they pass a resolution advocating students go to the game (not that their resolutions change the world anyway).

That’s about as hypocritical as it gets.

Why should the athletic department be expected to provide transportation to away games when almost no one goes to the ones at home? The argument is even weaker coming from the Student Assembly, a group of people whom I have never seen “en masse” at any Cornell sporting event, and I’ve been to several polo, wrestling, field hockey, and lacrosse events. Having the SA bring this issue to J. Andy Noel and the athletic department is like having a kid without feet ask for new shoes. Neither party truly has a proper leg to stand on.

Besides being hypocritical, the Assembly was also being impractical. There was a reason that the men’s volleyball and gymnastics programs were cut in the early 90’s, and it had nothing to do with the fact that our former AD didn’t like men in spandex. These programs were cut due to a lack of funding.

Sure, a bus to Buffalo might not cost the athletic department as much as an entire program, so they could do it. After all, they would only need to cut a recruiting trip, or stop buying equipment for one of our teams. But is that worth it? Do we really want second class athletic teams just so fans can have first class travel accommodations? I think not.

A question was raised by an assembly member as to what we receive from student support of the athletic department, and to be honest, it gets us plenty. Every sport except for hockey is free during the regular season. That’s over 20 athletic teams anyone with a Cornell ID can watch, free of charge, almost every weekend of the academic year.

I suppose some of you want to know where the money actually goes. That’s fine, as contributing members to the athletic department you — the students — have a right if not an obligation to know.

Let’s break down the costs like this. Equipment is going to be a small cost of the budget. Next comes a team’s support staff, such as athletic trainers and sports medicine specialists. After that comes team transportation and insurance. Oh, and there are also coaches’ salaries.

The grand total? It varies from sport to sport. Some like football have lots of equipment and lots of players, so the costs add up. Others like squash have fewer athletes and therefore less equipment. Most of the figures I know of are in the six-digit range, meaning that the money the SA contributes to the athletic department is chump change (especially when compared to the alumni contributions each program receives).

The SA shouldn’t clamor for one group and leave out another (mainly the umpteen other sports at Cornell that aren’t hockey). The hypocrisy needs to end, and the best time to end it is this Saturday, at 1 p.m. in the stands of Schoellkopf Field.

Archived article by Matt Janiga