The State Fair Community College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday morning to approve the addition of four sports to the college’s athletic program.
The Board approved the addition of men’s and women’s soccer, baseball and softball, marking the first addition to the athletic program since the elimination of the soccer program in 2001 and volleyball in 2009.
As part of the motion, made by Randall Eaton, to accept the four sports, the programs must operate with a net neutral budget beginning with year one with no college funds redirected for their support.
The motion carried unanimously.
There was considerable discussion about the programs during the board’s work session hosted prior to the scheduled board meeting.
One reason for the addition of the teams, according to SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson, is the college sees this as a possible way to increase student enrollment.
“When we adopted our Campus Master Plan we knew one of our main areas of focus was how do we address our declining enrollment,” Anderson said at the work session. “We need to grow our enrollment and we looked at a number of ways to address that, including exploring a number of options.
“First and foremost we must serve our students, as well as our budget,” Anderson added. “We know whatever we do it cannot be at the expense of other programs.”
At the work session, SFCC Director of Development Mary Treuner addressed the board concerning outside donors who were willing to contribute to the athletic programs.
“After speaking with a group of invited individuals at a meeting Thursday evening, we have received pledges of contributions totaling $34,000 annually for the next three years,” Treuner said. “We have also received several significant in-kind gifts as well that will help fund the programs.”
Those in-kind gifts include an athletic trainer who will be available at the games, the labor to maintain the existing soccer fields at the college, and two individuals who have committed to supply a scoreboard for the soccer fields.
The baseball games will be played at Dey Field at Liberty Park Stadium and softball games will be played at Vansell Field at Liberty Park.
The college plans to offer six scholarships per sport and hopes to recruit from the strong pool of local talent, especially in soccer and baseball.
Both men’s and women’s soccer compete in the fall and are expected to begin play in 2016. Baseball and softball will begin tentatively in spring 2017.
At both the meeting and the work session, the board also discussed the Campus Master Plan in regards to the enrollment concerns and the need for a new technology center for the college.
“Our current technology center is both outdated and insufficient,” Anderson said during the work session. “It is our oldest building on campus, built in 1974 and there are also major space concerns with the facility.
“Because of this we are not offering some of the needed programs to our students and we believe they are going elsewhere to find these programs,” she added. “Helping our students with the attainment of a degree is needed to build a sound economy for our 14-county area we serve and the state.”
To do this, the college has established the goal as part of its master plane to increase the percent of service area high school graduates attending SFCC from 17 percent to 22 percent by 2019-20.
“Financially we are enrollment driven and we know adult enrollment is very unpredictable,” Anderson said. “We believe that both a new technology center as well as the expansion of our athletic programs will increase our enrollment.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484