KSU athletic department looks for ways to cut back

Jody Michael

Other schools lead by example, show the way to savings

The current state of the economy has forced changes upon the Kent State sports’ programs.

Athletic Director Laing Kennedy and the rest of the university’s athletic department is in charge of finding creative ways to cut back costs without affecting the success of the programs or the athletes’ performances.

Kennedy said no coaches, sports or scholarships will be cut to save the budget. However, administrative positions, equipment, sports medicine, travel budgets and general operations will be scaled back.

In the past, teams would travel by bus to any location less than 300 miles away, but it has now been extended to 500 miles.

The football team will still be flying to road games against Boston College (600 miles) and Baylor (1,300 miles) this season, and to future opponents like South Alabama (2013; 950 miles) and Iowa State (2016 and 2017; 700 miles). But there are other future non-conference opponents scheduled whose locations are within a drivable distance, especially when it comes to the MAC’s partnership with the Big Ten Conference. Kent State can drive to Penn State in 2010, Purdue in 2011 and Ohio State in 2014.

Kennedy also said that the sports programs will now be scheduling more nearby schools that fit the 500-mile driving limit.

Kent State’s athletic department isn’t the only program looking for ways to save. Cutbacks are being made at colleges all around Northeast Ohio and throughout the country in an effort to help athletic programs run more efficiently.

The University of Akron football team will be flying to just one of their six road games this upcoming season. Three flights had previously been scheduled.

The MAC as a whole has already begun making changes for the 2010 basketball tournament.

For the next two years, the men’s and women’s basketball conference championships will now have their opening rounds take place at campus sites, as opposed to the Quicken Loans Arena.

Instead of all teams playing on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ turf, only eight teams will advance to play on the court.

Kennedy said that the plan to find a new tournament spot is less about saving money and more so that the men and women could each have their own tournament and aren’t sharing a venue.

“I think we have one of the top five (conference) tournaments,” said Kennedy, “but at the same time, we have to have equality.”

While Kennedy said the cost of conference tournaments isn’t an issue, the department is going to stop printing conference media guides for next season. The guides will be available online.

Lake Erie College will also nix programs, but only for sports that are less popular. Lake Erie College will continue to print programs for football and basketball teams. The cut will save their athletic department $22,000.

Teams in the Division III Ohio Athletic Conference will partner to play the same university simultaneously. For example, the soccer and volleyball teams will play at the same location so they can share a bus. The conference – which includes area schools Baldwin-Wallace, John Carroll, and Mount Union – also wants to hold more coaches’ meetings on the same day so carpooling becomes an option. Schools are also looking into holding digital meetings.

While such plans aren’t being made for Kent State yet, Kennedy said the overall goal is to change how the athletic department operates by reducing expenses that don’t harm the sports teams and their preparation for the season.

“We are not impacting our competitiveness,” Kennedy said.

Contact news correspondent Jody Michael at [email protected]