UFV’s volleyball, golf, rowing programs on life support

The future of UFV's volleyball, golf and rowing teams are in doubt, due to budgetary limitations.

Last spring, University of the Fraser Valley volleyball coaches Greg Russell and Dennis Bokenfohr were called in for a meeting with athletic director Rick Nickelchok, where they were informed that their programs – along with men’s golf and rowing – were on the verge of being eliminated.

What’s more, they discovered their programs had been on the chopping block for the previous two years as well, due to budgetary limitations.

“It was quite a shock to me,” said Russell, who coaches the Cascades men’s volleyball squad. “I had recruited a whole bunch of kids from the U18 team that I also coach, and lo and behold, there might not be a program at all.

“It’s the commitment I made to kids and parents that I was really concerned about.”

Russell met with Karola Stinson, UFV’s vice president external who oversees the athletic department, and appealed for funds to keep the programs afloat. Last-minute funding was secured to cover the 2011-12 season, but the teams’ future beyond that is up in the air.

Stinson explained that the athletic department budget only covers UFV’s four flagship Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) programs – men’s and women’s basketball and soccer. Money for the non-CIS teams has been scraped together from unallocated funds after the university’s budgeting process is complete.

“The fact that we’ve always managed to find money in the past and save them for another year speaks to the fact that we value their contribution to university life,” Stinson said.

“I’m hoping we can do it again, but I don’t know if we can. But if the worst should happen, it has nothing to do with the value or the contribution to the university. Hopefully, magically, we will be able to do it again.”

Russell has pitched several measures to ensure ongoing funding, including a student fee for athletics.

“These programs have been very successful,” noted Russell, who said it costs about $100,000 to run the two college volleyball teams. “When I was hired on and the university was moving towards university status, I thought more of the teams would be going towards the CIS, where soccer and basketball compete. But we seem to be going the other way, cutting back, and that seems contradictory to the whole university status movement.”

UFV announced two weeks ago that Nickelchok had resigned his post as athletic director; Nickelchok and Stinson both declined comment on the circumstances of his departure. Chris Bertram, head of UFV’s kinesiology and physical education department and the coach of the Cascades men’s golf team, is serving as interim athletic director.

The funding issues are a source of tension within the department.

“I’m exposed to it enough to know it’s very stressful for people,” said Russell, noting that his time on campus is limited since he’s not a full-time coach. “As soon as these funding issues come up, then people tend to fight over what’s left over.

“But I’ve seen this in business. If there are cutbacks to a product line or to a department, it’s never the same anymore. It’s not perceived the same, it doesn’t have the same status in the organization. There tend to be more cuts after that if it’s allowed to happen.”

The athletic department’s fiscal quandary is an extension of the challenge facing the university at large – decreasing funding, increasing demand. UFV enrolled more than 16,000 students last year, accepting 104 per cent of the admissions it received provincial funding for. The number of wait-listed students soared to 5,800 this fall, 21 per cent higher than last year.

“Hopefully by early spring we’ll be in a better position to know,” Stinson said, speaking of the fate of volleyball, golf and rowing. “We don’t anticipate any new revenue, and we’re trying to do more with less.”

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read