Point system evens playing ground for UNT club sports

Point system evens playing ground for UNT club sports

Point system evens playing ground for UNT club sports
March 08
10:50 2019

UNT is currently home to 33 club sports and will be adding three more this fall. The club sports are facilitated through the Pohl Recreation Center, funded by the student service fees. With limited budgets, the clubs require a lot of time and attention from the recreation staff and the students.

Annie Thompson, recreation event and sports graduate assistant, and Hillary Wells, assistant director of sports clubs, run most of the day-to-day activites for rec sports. Thompson said she believes there are many benefits to the club sports being ran solely by the students.

“It really gives them the chance to have good leadership opportunities to mold the club into what they want it to be,” Thompson said. “I like the idea that they’re having a chance to create the kind of environment they want to as they play and compete and they get to build those relationships. Then Hillary Wells and I are able to come in and help, give them advice and support them in that way.”

When it comes to running a club sport, the most-involved are the students within. The students are in charge of any registration for tournaments, leagues, bookings for traveling, etc. The clubs are in complete control of all their financial duties, putting together a budget for that competing year and presenting it to the executive board to persuade for funding. 

The club sports’ executive board is administered by peer-elected club sport athletes. Almost everything involving the club sports is managed by the students, for the students. The club sports staff offers guidance with budgeting, offering free seminars and workshops to help the clubs build a solid foundation for a productive and financial successful season.

Jeff Allen, regions professor and staff advisor of the triathlon club, shared the budget and what the students have to walk through in order to receive funding.

“Just like any department on campus you are having to justify what your expenses will be for the year,” Allen said. “Does it have good inherent components to it? Absolutely. It makes the clubs really think what’s needed and not just what’s wanted.”

While clubs do have to present a budget to the board to receive funding, they work on a point system in order to gain additional funds. Before going into their budget presentation the club can look at the amount of points they have collected that past calendar year and calculate the amount of money that they will be guaranteed. The clubs are able to earn points which convert into dollar amounts by attending club fairs, other club sporting events, doing community service and more.

UNT grad student Ana Mendoza stretches before beginning her run with the triathlon club at the Denton ISD track. Image by: Will Baldwin.

Tiffany Miller, fencing club vice president and executive board member, said the benefits of the point system that were only established a few years ago.

“The point system was designed and intended and operates so that the clubs that work harder, go to more tournaments, have to pay more for league dues, have more members, do community service and recruitment, do all these different things accumulate more points,” Miller said. “Because of the point system [the fencing club] budget increased 175 percent going into the next year.”

The point system was implemented a few years ago in order to give a fair ground to all the clubs seeking funding. Miller said it’s challenging for the board to decide who will get more money when you are comparing two sports that are completely different, like soccer and equestrian. By awarding these points, the clubs gain money by caring about their sports and others.

“You have to find a balance,” Miller said. “It can be hard to find that balance. The point system works very well to level the playing field. If your club is willing to put in the work to get the money then they can, because it’s very doable.”

Miller said, once the club presents their budget, the board then discusses the amount of money they believe the club should be given. To avoid bias, if one of the board members are also a member of the club, they are asked to leave the room during the discussion to ensure the clubs are being evaluated fairly.

“We have gotten more progressively active as an executive board in terms of how we interact with clubs,” Miller said. “Now we have Sports-a-palooza and our banquet. We added in two new events we’ve never had and we took a more active role in our smaller groups. This year we’re trying to bring in guest speakers from clubs like UPC, Talons, GFC and others to talk about their organizations and talk about how we can create a more collaborative community.”   

With the club sports being funded through the students, there are limits to what the students are allowed to use their funds on. The club is only allowed to spend the funds if it benefits the whole team and not only one individual. According to the assistant director of sport clubs, Hillary Wells, the club sports are not allowed to use their funds to pay a coach, which is the reason many clubs do not have one.

“Unfortunately we can’t pay [volunteers] for all their time and service,” Wells said. “Clubs can’t use any of their funding, not just the allocated, but also their dues, donations or extra fundraising. It gets tricky because it gets into the status of the volunteers. If the clubs pay them, would they then be considered an employee of the university? So as sport clubs, we decided coaches would be on a volunteer basis.”

Although many clubs do very well without a coach, this is still a disadvantage compared to university funded sports. Practice facilities and times are difficult for the clubs to obtain. Even with having more than 400 students involved in club sports, they still feel looked over, Miller said. 

“We are never prioritized,” Miller said. “That recognition would help build up our networks more. Sports clubs do a really good job of creating that team dynamic that you know and can rely on. If more people knew about our clubs we would have more members, students would know about us and contribute to all of it.”

While there is still a lot to work on towards gaining more recognition for our club sports, the athletes and staff are still proud of what they do and work hard to grow their organization.

“It’s not like a job to us,” Miller said. “We’re doing it because we want to do it. We do it because we love the sport, and we do it because we love the clubs. That helps you grow as a student and as a person. Out of all the things I’ve done, my sport club has meant the most to me.”

Featured Image: Accounting junior Sammy Zeiders talks to a teammate at practice in January. Image by: Trevon McWilliams.

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Bayleigh Swanton

Bayleigh Swanton

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