Creative scheduling may help ease WolfPack's budget woes

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
February 21, 2013 01:00 AM

The TRU WolfPack may have to get creative in its scheduling to help deal with a tightened operating budget.

Ken Olynyk, TRU's athletics and recreation director, said Wednesday that due to cuts all over the university, the department is looking to trim about $75,000 from its budget over the next three years. The WolfPack's operating budget, according to Olynyk, is more than $1.5 million.

The easiest way to cut spending without taking money from recruiting, Olynyk said, is to lower travel expenses. TRU could possibly travel to some of its closer games - in Kelowna, Langley, Abbotsford or Vancouver - on game day, and could look to bus to games in Calgary instead of flying.

But, before the program will commit to those changes, it will look to be smarter in scheduling.

"Other ways we can affect our budget in positive ways is to look at how we schedule," Olynyk said. "If all of the sudden we don't have to go to Winnipeg four times a season, with basketball and volleyball, and maybe we only have to go there twice, then we've saved some money."

The WolfPack's 2013-14 Canada West schedules have been set, but Olynyk said that schools have the autonomy to tweak them between now and October.

By traveling to Abbotsford, Kelowna, Langley and Vancouver on game day, the WolfPack will save a night's stay in a hotel, along with a couple of meals. But that isn't possible for trips to Victoria, because of the ferry, or Prince George, due to the distance.

Olynyk said that there are ways to get around the extra night in a hotel without traveling on game day.

For instance, in going to Prince George for two games, the teams could leave Kamloops on Friday, play Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and come home Sunday night. That way, TRU only has to pay for two nights in a hotel, and there's no travel on game day.

"We can do a lot with the scheduling," Olynyk said.

Both TRU basketball coaches - Scott Clark and Scott Reeves - declined to comment, both saying they didn't know enough about the plans.

But tightened travel arrangements could make things tougher on the coaches' preparation, and also on their recruiting. Although each recruit will weigh dozens of factors in choosing a school, game-day travel and bus rides could sway a player.

Olynyk disagreed.

"One of the things I've found is that the only way an athlete will learn about it is if another coach tells him, 'This is bad for you,' " he said. "We can spin that around and say, 'Hey, you don't miss a Thursday class this way.' "

With two programs in Calgary - the U of C Dinos and the Mount Royal Cougars - the WolfPack also is considering cutting out flying into Cowtown.

Chartering a bus is much less expensive than flying - a bus usually runs about $1,000 per day, meaning the WolfPack could take two teams - 28 people - to Calgary for four-plus days for about $5,000.

Flying that many people in can cost as much as $13,000. The WolfPack women's basketball team leaves today for Calgary - Olynyk said TRU got a seat sale ($109 each way), but still, that's at least $4,500 when you factor in tickets, taxes and other fees for 15 people.

"We have to be more wise and frugal in how we spend our money," Olynyk said. "We don't want to be taking money from recruiting or student awards. We want to maintain specific areas and augment other areas."

The university has hired development officers to raise money to make up for lowered government funding. Of the six development officers, one is specifically for the athletics and trades departments.

"This isn't just an athletics department issue," Olynyk said, "it's a university issue. And TRU's not the only school dealing with this."

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