The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Student wants baseball back

A UW-Eau Claire student and member of the UWEC Baseball Club is making the latest attempt to reestablish a varsity baseball team since it was originally cut in 1995.

Junior Ben Krings, one of the captains and secretary of the club, said there are many reasons he thinks baseball should be added.

“Eau Claire is one of the best places in Wisconsin for high school baseball,” Krings said. “Do you know how many of those kids would stay at UWEC to play at Carson Park? It’s just unreal.”

To begin his push, Krings spoke to Student Senate during Open Forum at their Oct. 25 meeting in hopes of gaining their support.

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According to a press release issued on June 22, 1995, the decision to cut the program was prompted by “budget constraints and position cutbacks at the university and in the department of kinesiology.”

Scott Kilgallon, currently in his seventh year as athletic director, had no part in the decision, but said similar constraints still exist.

“To be able to add at this point in time with the economy is incredibly tough,” he said.

Kilgallon said the two main issues with adding the team are infrastructure support and Title IX implications.

“You need to have more office space, you need to have athletic trainers, which for me is probably my biggest thing,” he said. “Even though we’ve had a lot of success with our teams, we always never can compromise the welfare of student athletes.”

When it comes to Title IX, he said other problems could arise that don’t just affect the athletic department.

“In my business as an administrator, Title IX is very important,” Kilgallon said. “If we are not in compliance with NCAA and particularly Title IX, we could lose federal financial aid for the university, not just for athletics.”

In 2009, Pergolizzi & Associates Athletics Consulting and Management was hired by the athletic department to assess gender equity in UW-Eau Claire’s athletics. The goal of the study was to see what kind of impact the return of varsity baseball would have on the university’s compliance with Title IX. There are three ways in which a school can comply with Title IX, but only one of the three needs to be met.

One of the criteria used is the percentage of male athletes versus female athletes at a school, which can only be different by five percent or less. Currently UW-Eau Claire is at an 11.83 percent differential and the addition of baseball would increase that number to 14.4 percent, according to the report.

To make sure the school stayed in compliance with Title IX, a men’s team would likely have to be cut or a women’s team would also have to be added, Kilgallon said.

Krings said he wouldn’t like to see any sport cut, but he said he suggested wrestling as an option during the Student Senate meeting because they have a similar number of athletes, among other reasons.

“Students don’t go see wrestling,” he said. “Students would go support baseball.”

Kilgallon said ultimately a decision like that would have to come from the Office of the Chancellor but that cutting another sport could add similar problems.

“Taking out another sport is not easily done,” Kilgallon said. “You’ll have the same type of pushback that we currently do with baseball.”

In a perfect world, Kilgallon said he wishes he could add not only baseball, but all of the other club sports as well.

“People really don’t understand how complex this is, and how far-reaching it is for the university,” he said.

Krings hopes that the issue will continue to be discussed and said that he has not given up trying just yet.

“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “I wouldn’t get to see it or personally play in it, but just knowing that I had a factor in it would be something that I could be satisfied with for the rest of my life.”

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