Sports camps see enrollment decrease

The economy has hurt many aspects of the athletic department, including the number of kids running around campus as part of the various sports camps held by Saluki coaches.

The state of the economy is a significant reason why enrollment in sports camps at SIU has been down recently, said Mark Scally, associate athletic director of finance. The cost of the camps — which Scally said is approximately  $100 to $150 a week per participant — depending on the sport, is out of reach for some families in the area.

“If you have to choose between eating and going to camp, it’s a pretty simple choice,” Scally said.

The Department of Continuing Education handles the enrollment for most sports camps, and according to numbers provided by the department, the overall number of students in camps is down from 625 in 2011 to 419 in 2012.

Two coaches don’t run their camps through Continuing Education: football coach Dale Lennon and women’s basketball coach Missy Tiber. According to numbers provided by running back’s coach Steve Crutchley, the football camps saw a decline from 816 participants in 2010 to 658 this summer.

Andy Pettit, director of facilities and game operations, said Tiber wasn’t in town as of press time, so numbers for women’s basketball camps this year aren’t available.

Baseball coach Ken Henderson saw attendance in his summer baseball camp drop from a high of 161 in 2008 to 68 this summer. He said the economy played a large roll with the drop-off in enrollment, but the way baseball camps work is different now then when he started doing camps 20 years ago.

Now, athletes can sign up with various hitting academies and travel teams, so there isn’t as much demand for sports camps as there was before. Henderson said participants in their camps used to stay on campus overnight when he started doing camps in 1990, but that wouldn’t be practical now.

Athletic Director Mario Moccia said many coaches face the same problem of potential campers going elsewhere for the same kind of instruction. Moccia said the primary purpose of sports camps now is to bring in kids who could potentially become students or even athletes at SIU.

“It’s like seeding the field for the future,” Moccia said. “You get young kids involved in the program, and they get excited about it. They’re six, seven or eight years old and they think it’s the greatest thing in the world, so you become a lifelong Saluki fan that way.”

Lennon holds football camps not only in Carbondale, but also in other regions across Illinois. He said they have satellite camps at Northwestern and University of Illinois, which have been very helpful in recruiting.

A couple coaches didn’t do sports camps this year, including men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson and women’s tennis coach Audra Nothwehr. Moccia said the coaches aren’t required to hold camps, although he said Hinson wasn’t ready to start one because of how little time he’s had on campus since he was hired March 28.

The only compensation coaches receive from the camps is in the form of a stipend from Continuing Education, after all the expenses for the camp have been paid. Since the athletic department doesn’t run the camps, they require coaches to take vacation days for each day the camp is run.

Scally said it’s a policy that applies to every employee at SIU and it’s similar to other universities, where two departments can’t pay someone simultaneously. He said it would be like if he worked as a consultant for Eastern Illinois University. SIU can’t stop him from taking the job, but SIU doesn’t have to pay while he’s doing work for another organization.

What the coaches do with the stipend is up to them, Moccia said. Henderson said he usually uses the stipend to pay the assistant coaches and other helpers he has with each camp.

 

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