Budget woes leave golf and cheerleading penniless

This year’s state budget, authorized by Gov. Jon S. Corzine, left the College with $8 million short of state funding instead of the expected $12.1 million.

After vigorous hours of planning by College President R. Barbara Gitenstein and staff, they were able to save $4 million through a series of cuts.

Due to the loss of salary raises and the burden of tuition increases, the athletic department had to reduce its budget by $100,000.

The reductions resulted in an elimination of the varsity men’s golf team and the varsity cheerleading squad.

“The decision to eliminate funding for these two programs, as well as the other cuts that have been made, was extremely painful and the College truly regrets this outcome,” athletic director Kevin McHugh said in an earlier statement posted on the College’s athletic Web site.

“In making this decision, all intercollegiate varsity sports were examined based on a set of variables, including operating expenses per head, participation numbers, campus impact, national competitiveness, academic success, etc.,” McHugh said.

McHugh announced the decision on July 16.

Gitenstein responded to the situation through a statement: “It is very disheartening to have to make expenditure cuts to programs that have impact on student opportunities. With the depth of the reduction to state support for the College, no aspect of opportunities was immune to cuts – including our highly successful athletic program. The state left us with only painful options.”

The 2005-06 men’s golf team consisted of 10 members. Four of the members were freshmen. The team competed in 18 outings and had nine top-10 finishes.

The cheerleading squad competed last year in several competitions and cheered on the sidelines during football games.

“We were given $4,000 per year prior to the cut and our head coach, Jen Pechuta, was given an annual salary,” sophomore cheerleader Holly Ellenberger said. “Pechuta is also the coach of the dance team and since they were not considered a varsity sport, we split the $4,000 with them every year.”

With the loss of the golf and cheerleading teams, the College is left with only 20 varsity teams. Whether or not the teams will compete as club sports is still unclear.

“We are applying for club status and our coach is staying with the team, so hopefully we will be able to cheer at all of the games,” Ellenberger said. “The process takes a while, and we have a lot of information to submit during the application process. We have four freshmen on the squad right now. They still are very excited about the season so we are trying to keep our spirit up.”