Poly athletics will take on its most threatening challenger this season: budget cuts.
Athletics, like many university departments, is feeling the pressure to maintain program standards, while performing with less.
Minimized budgets have forced the department to cut personnel and keep competitive programs local. To save where it can, delaying pricey purchases and cutting back on advertising has alleviated much expense for the department.
Three department positions a fundraising position and two intern positions have been cut.
“We have tried to make cuts that don’t directly impact the student athlete or the athletic experience, but I do think we will have to continue to make more changes,” Athletics Director Alison Cone said.
Cone said this is a result of “the most dramatic economic hardship” during her 15-year career with the California State University (CSU) and six-year post at Cal Poly.
“We can save a lot by getting an extra year or two out of what uniforms and training equipment we currently have,” Cone said.
Scholarships will likely take a hit come recruitment season, despite the department’s efforts to cut away from the athlete.
But cutting expenditures still has its costs.
Athletics cut media guides this season, a savings of nearly $25,000 annually, and will distribute a similar product online. The effect this will have on athletes attracting recruiting coaches is an apparent concern.
Because a fundraising position was cut, coaches will have to be more aggressive when asking for gifts and awards independently. Without media guides, students may have to self-promote more widely. With less staff, administrators will be busier.
In addition to media guides going digital, Poly athletics has a larger Web presence this year, but fewer print advertisements.
Cal Poly fans may have already felt the impact of the budget cuts.
One of the sports information interns, Andrew Tomsky, called many of Cal Poly’s big sporting events live on the school’s official athletic site in the past. But with the position’s departure, only a few soccer matches have been broadcast on the Web site during the fall athletic season.
The marketing team is tapping into online social media to take advantage of no-cost promotion while funds are low. “It’s something we had started in the past, but are now developing further,” assistant athletic director of marketing Shaun Russel said.
With printed materials “we are still getting good exposure, just not able to purchase as many ads,” he said. “Frequency, and duration remains key.”
Although advertisements play a large role in attracting crowds to games, it’s still too early to see any detrimental results this year.
“Things are taking longer to get done because we are operating with fewer people…but so far we are doing a great job, like we’ve always done,” Cone said.