Increased athletic budget aims to increase spectator turnout, but falls short
The Santa Clara
May 25, 2017
Santa Clara students support one game a year. If you are a Bronco (past or present) you know which game that is: Santa Clara vs. Gonzaga, Men’s Basketball.
Despite the seemingly fierce school spirit at this annual game, the fact of the matter is that Santa Clara students do not embrace athletics and there is very little school spirit on campus.
“One thing I looked for in a school was school spirit and big sports teams,” first year Samantha DiBenedetto said. “But, I didn’t end up choosing Santa Clara for that reason. The sports teams aren’t very present.”
In a survey of 100 Santa Clara students, 97 percent wished there was more school spirit.
A common theme was that if other students actually attended more games, they would too.
“The Gonzaga game was so fun,” first year Isabelle Sahyoun said. “I wish we had more games like that throughout the year.”
The Santa Clara Athletic Department saw this issue and decided to instill some changes into their program.
Athletic Department Director Renee Baumgartner elevated the athletic scene when she was hired in July of 2015.
As a former college athlete, coach and athletic director at other universities, Baumgartner has notable experience and has already used it to make big changes to the Santa Clara programs.
She explains that when an athletic team succeeds, students tend to rally around them, bringing the campus community collectively closer.
“My hope for the student body is that they embrace an athletic team,” Baumgartner said. “It can bring tremendous energy to not only the athletic building but the entire campus.”
This is why the Santa Clara Athletic Department has received a substantial budget increase over the past five years.
Santa Clara University as a whole created a “strategic plan” with a set of goals to be achieved by 2020.
Baumgartner specifically looks to Goal Six of the strategic plan to explain the athletic budget increase.
In short, the sixth goal states that “Santa Clara University will grow in national reputation as an outstanding university with distinctive programs of excellence.” Baumgartner explains that one of the biggest ways to bring national visibility to a university is through “excellence in intercollegiate athletics.”
“The investment that the university puts into athletics is absolutely reimbursed by the profit they make from the programs,” Baumgartner said, “They end up making money by investing in the department.”
In the same survey of 100 Santa Clara students where 97 percent expressed a wish for more school spirit. 40 percent also said they do not support an increased budget.
“I think our school has much larger financial issues than just allocation to the athletics department,” said sophomore Ashley Wong. “They also receive a large amount of donations in the athletics department.”
These results point to a disconnect between the Athletic Administration and the student body.
The Athletic Administration directly correlates budget with school spirit, though the students may not.
Additionally, Baumgarten said that heightened school spirit can also increase applicants and admission to a university.
While the school has in fact increased their athletic budget, donors and fundraisers have also contributed significantly to the rise in funds.
Aside from the whopping $20 million the university is putting toward athletics by the 2017-2018 school year, a program called “Bronco Bench” was implemented to make it easier for people to make donations to athletics.
With an increase in the athletic budget, the Athletic Department has nothing but good intentions for students and the university as a whole.
But, if the university continues raising their athletic budget, they better put out a significant product to the student body.
As put by sophomore Ashley Wong: “I expect results!”
Contact Olivia DeGraca at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.