Athletics funds varies in conference

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

Whether it is Division I or the lowest level in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, recruiting is an essential part to any athlete program’s success.

Division I programs rely heavily on full ride scholarships to attract top recruits.

Every Division I school has enough enrollment, wealthy alumni and a hefty chunks of cash from government that puts them on the same playing field as far as scholarship financial backing.

That is not so much the case in Division II sports.

Many Division II schools much money as others if they are publicly owned state schools.

Many schools that are not part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education can take advantage of endowments for athletes.  Pitt-Johnstown athletic programs can do just that.

There are 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference out 18 schools.

Pitt-Johnstown ranks fifth out of 17 known endowments of schools in the conference (California University of Pennsylvania’s endowment is not public).

Endowments help religious-related Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools such as Gannon University, Mercyhurst University and Seton Hill University.

“There are three things when it comes to (collegiate athletics recruitment); staff, faculty and scholarships,” Pitt-Johnstown Athletic Director and head wrestling coach Pat Pecora said.

“I really believe that we can be competitive in the (conference when it comes to scholarships).”

Pecora said that public schools (both state-owned and state-related, like Pitt-Johnstown) cannot compete with the three private schools in the conference because the private schools have the highest levels of endowment money.

Seton Hill’s endowment is the conference’s highest with $80 million annually and it has the smallest conference enrollment.

Pitt-Johnstown gets the second most in endowment out of any conference public school with $28,189,323 (all statistics are as of the 2012-13 school year from here on out).

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is the highest out of public schools and second overall, trailing only Seton Hill with $47 million.

Clarion University’s Athletic Director, David Katis was not fond of the subject when trying to provide some insight on how Clarion uses its scholarship money.

“I would check the conference website and go from there,” Katis said.  “We are not funded real well, and are near the bottom of the West Division.”

That is not true.

Clarion ranks fifth in student aid per participant an average of $2,821 per student-athlete.

alifornia almost doubles the number of athletic participants (582) than Clarion (259).

All of the schools that are not in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are the only conference members who are not original members, 1951-52.

Gannon and Mercyhurst both joined the conference in the 2008-09 season while Seton Hill and Pitt-Johnstown joined this year.

The Mountains Cats have found early success already despite joining the conference only five months ago, July 1.

Pitt-Johnstown women’s volleyball won their first ever Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and their first conference championship overall by defeating the California Lady Vulcans in five sets Nov. 23.

California had the conference’s second best conference record while the Lady Cats had only the fifth best record out of the eight schools in the conference tournament.

Pitt-Johnstown budgets $663,123 annually in athletic-related student aid with 46 percent going to women’s sports.

California allocates over three times as much as the Mountain Cats with $2,445,092 but California also has almost three times the enrollment (9,017) than Pitt-Johnstown.

“There was always a thought on whether we were going to be able to compete in this conference,” Pecora said.

“(The volleyball conference championship) told everybody (in the conference) that we can compete and, not only compete, but win (despite a small enrollment and number of student athletes compared with other schools in the conference).”

Shippensburg University’s women’s volleyball team defeated the Pitt-Johnstown Lady Cats Dec. 5, in a regional playoff after the conference championship.

Shippensburg’s enrollment almost triples Pitt-Johnstown like almost every other school in the conference.

Pitt-Johnstown has the third smallest enrollment, ahead of only Cheyney University (a traditional black college) and Seton Hill in the conference.

Shippensburg budgets a little over $10,000 more than Pitt-Johnstown for athletic student aid with $678,131 with 51 percent going to women’s sports.

Shippensburg Athletic Director, Jeffrey Michaels said that Title IX (equality for women in college sports) scholarship requirements play a big factor in their women’s sports getting more aid than men’s sports.

“The goal is to have the scholarships distributed in an equitable way with our goal being to meet Title IX requirements,” Michaels said.

“Our programs have the opportunity to receive money from our general scholarship fund through the Shippensburg University Foundation’s Raiders Club in addition to endowed scholarships that have been created for specific sports.”

Pitt-Johnstown ranks sixth in the conference when it comes to the athletic-related student aid/participant ratio averaging just over $2,483.

Shippensburg, on the other hand, is 17th in that category averaging $1,109 per participant.

Michaels said that the coaches regulate how scholarship money is distributed at Shippensburg.

“Coaches for each program determine who should receive what amount of scholarship money,” Michaels said.