Athletic department assessing performance

Alexander Weck

Since August, the Lawrence Department of Athletics has been undergoing a comprehensive review of its activity. First-year athletic director Bob Beeman is spearheading the review, which was requested by President Beck.
“With a focal point of integrating athletics into campus life, we are reviewing the entire athletic program to functionally understand what our role is in the Lawrence community,” said Beeman.
The project is being headed up by a steering committee comprised of Beeman, Provost David Burrows and Associate Professor Stewart Purkey with support coming from the Office of Research Administration.
The first portion of the review, which is currently being evaluated, includes an examination of the functioning of the department itself. Department goals, program standards, coaching expectations and other guidelines have already been formed from scratch.
“We have to understand who we are before we can present to the university what we have to share,” says Beeman.
The department will be asking a subset of Lawrence students to give their impressions on the activity across the river sometime this fall. Similar requests will also be sent out to all of what Beeman calls “stakeholders” in the athletic program. This includes faculty, staff and alumni as well as the greater community.
In addition to these inquiries, an external review of operations will be completed this fall.
The questions on a lot of people’s minds, however, concern more controversial aspects of the department such as team budget inequities and rumors of teams being completely cut.
Budget inequities have been a notorious issue over the past few years. Currently, Lawrence’s highest-budgeted team per athlete is more than 11 times larger than the team with the lowest budget per athlete. This ratio is higher than at other comparable institutions.
Beeman stressed that the intent of the review is not to talk about cuts but that something of the sort could potentially happen. He was unable to comment on the topic of budget inequity.
No decisions on these matters will be available until the review is finished in January of 2007.
The progress up to this point has all been within the varsity athletics program. Starting in 2007, recreational athletics such as the offerings of the Rec Center and the intramural program will be looked at.
The recreational half of the review will follow the same template that the varsity review has, beginning with an internal review of operations followed by a surveying of the Lawrence community.