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TMC relies heavily on donor money and fundraising

Posted: August 21, 2013 9:06 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2013 9:06 p.m.

The Master's College baseball team advanced to the NAIA World Series last spring. The trip to the tournament cost the school about $23,000.

 

The Master’s College enjoyed one of its most successful overall athletic seasons in school history during the 2012-13 school year.

It was also one of the most expensive seasons.

Conventional wisdom might say that if teams are winning and making it deep into the postseason, more people are interested and therefore more money is coming in.

For a small private Christian school like TMC tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Newhall, that isn’t necessarily the case.

“There’s a price of success,” said TMC athletic director Steve Waldeck.

And that’s a big reason why it can be difficult for a school like it to maintain consistently winning and stable sports teams.

Eight out of 11 of the school’s sports teams made the postseason this past year. Many of those teams had to travel thousands of miles for various national competitions, which comes with all kinds of extra costs.

There’s airfare, hotel, meals and other various travel expenses.

And the governing body of these competitions, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, doesn’t reimburse much of that money.

It’s unlike bigger college competitions where the NCAA covers all costs of many national competitions at the Division I, II and III levels.

Things work differently in the NAIA.

“At our level, when you’re successful, even if people are with you and locked on from that, you’re not profiting,” said TMC athletic director Steve Waldeck.

This past spring, for example, the TMC baseball team advanced to the NAIA World Series which took place more than 1,000 miles away in Lewiston, Idaho.

The team played three games there and spent about a week in Lewiston. The trip added up to an estimated $23,000 price tag, but only about one-third of that was covered by the NAIA.

The rest was paid for with the school’s athletic fund, which is fed by donor money and fundraising.

Fundraising isn’t just needed to cover traveling bills though. There’s also a constant effort to raise money for athletic grants and scholarships.

Certain sports don’t have many scholarships to hand out considering a full-ride at TMC costs slightly more than $27,000 a year.

There’s also the additional price of equipment, facilities and upkeep associated with each sport and the two major venues on campus — Reese Field (baseball and soccer) and The MacArthur Center (basketball, volleyball).

The MacArthur Center, formerly Bross Gymnasium, is in the process of a major $3.8 million renovation which was funded entirely by donor money.

That money came together in a schoolwide effort stretching beyond sports because the building is also used for chapel services and other school events.

For the most part, though, athletics have to fend for themselves when major projects are needed.

“You’re asking families to pay for their education and now you’re asking families and friends of theirs to finance your budget?” said TMC baseball head coach Monte Brooks. “That’s really demanding of your players and their families. I’m not at a junior college, I’m not at a state school where people can (more easily) afford to go to school.”

Brooks is going into his 17th year as head baseball coach at the school, and he said the money in the program ebbs and flows through time.

To raise extra money, the program has sold T-shirts and hats, held golf tournaments and sold advertising space in the team program.

Some of that money helped the team get new seats in 1998 and a new scoreboard and dugouts in 2001.

“You just assess your needs and you look at your wants,” Brooks said. “Sometimes you don’t get all your wants, but you get what you need.”

As a whole, Waldeck said athletic programs spends more money than they are provided by the school’s general fund and endowment, so outside fundraising is a must.

Each coach takes a different approach.

TMC men’s soccer head coach Jim Rickard is the longest tenured current coach at the school as he enters his 23rd year at the helm.

He said he prefers to stay away from bake sales and car washes, and instead focuses on requesting money from his former players or teammates from when he played at TMC.

“I have donors that aren’t former soccer players,” Rickard said. “Guys that just love soccer and are athletes and have been friends of mine.”

But with only so much money to go around for partial or full scholarships, it’s not easy to put a winning team on the field year after year.

“For us, a large percent of consistency comes down to scholarship dollars,” Rickard said. “I could almost chart it because what happens is it makes it hard to have four good recruiting classes.”

At a small private school with a few more than 1,000 students, the burden will always fall on each individual sport to generate as much funding as possible.

For that reason, Waldeck said the school is still developing a process for improving its fundraising strategies for sports.

It’s a continuing process though, and Waldeck said it’s still in its early stages.

 

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