News, Sports

Long Beach State athletics department stays afloat despite classes remaining virtual through spring 2021

Following the recent announcement made by Chancellor Timothy P. White of yet another virtual semester, Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee said he is planning ahead for the department’s future. 


“Athletes across the country have been kind of hotbeds of COVID because they can’t play without coming in close contact with one another,” Conoley said. 


Recently, colleges across the nation have been cutting budgets significantly across athletics departments. On August 8 Stanford University announced they would be cutting 11 varsity sports, including its men’s volleyball team.


Luckily for the Beach, all sports programs will remain intact going into the spring 2021 semester. 


“We were able to fundraise an additional $150,000 through donor donations and keep all of our athletes covered,” Fee said. “We’ve had our consistent donors step up, and we’ve had some new donors, but mainly our consistent donors.” 


According to Fee, the athletic department received only $200,000 this year because they were unable to participate in National Collegiate Athletics Association March Madness due to COVID-19 restrictions, which is nearly $400,000 less than last year. 


Per NCAA regulations, student athletes have been granted an additional year of eligibility if they chose to sit out the fall 2020 season. 


“If we are required to keep folks on scholarship, what do we do about incoming student athletes?” Fee said. “Now you have the returning athlete not hanging out the baton of scholarship and our new athletes. I want everyone to be able to play here for four years, and the reality is we can’t do that anymore due to the financial situation we are in.”


However, offering an extra year of eligibility comes a multitude of issues.


For example, the Dirtbags’ baseball roster currently has 54 players, nearly 20 more than the NCAA previously had once allowed per team.


“You start amplifying instead of a 40-man roster, it’s now an extra 14 players on staff we have to attend to,” Fee said. “Multiply that across 19 sports and that’s a significant increase. The reality is my heart endorses people getting their year of eligibility. You’re a little handcuffed by the NCCA, until the eligibility is exhausted, every player, not just seniors are getting this extra pushback.”


The only hope for a return to live sports at the Beach solely rests on men’s basketball. 


The NCAA had originally set the season to begin Nov. 10, but will now instead make a decision at the end of September on whether there will still be a season at all. Fee is hopeful, however, that the organization will decide favorably for the team and spectators can expect to see men’s basketball after Thanksgiving.


“We are creating a system that requires us to do certain things. The reality is we can’t keep adding money into the scholarship bucket,” Fee said. “The bucket has gotten smaller, when you put too much pressure on institutions, we are at the front end.” 


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