Posted at 12 p.m. Nov. 11, 2016

Women’s basketball returns with hopes for Ws, dollars

Basketball team’s return increases revenue to College

Glass Menagerie

Since 1992, Laramie County Community College has been without a women’s basketball team. However, after a unanimous vote of approval from the LCCC Board of Trustees, plans were set in motion to bring the team back for the fall 2016 season.

Scott Noble, LCCC athletics director, said the women’s basketball program was planned before he was hired in May 2015.

Noble said LCCC’s strategic plan talks about student opportunity and transforming student lives in addition to distinguishing LCCC from other community colleges in the nation. Noble said he explained how he would look for administrative support to bring back women’s basketball in fall 2016.

In February, before the current budget cuts were necessary, a proposal for the plan to bring back the women’s basketball program was drawn up for review by the Board of Trustees. In the executive summary of the proposal, reasons were given why the program should be reinstated. Those reasons were to increase enrollment and to make LCCC a more visible institution locally, regionally and nationally.

Matt Petry, the deputy director and chief financial officer of the Wyoming Community College Commission, noted in the February 2016 project proposal “the addition of 18 students would have a positive financial impact for LCCC.” Petry also wrote in the proposal about a performance matrix that would take effect in fall 2017.

This matrix that rewards institutions based on “completers” who graduate with a certificate or diploma or who have transferable hours and continue their education at a four-year institution. In 2015, 85 percent of sophomore student-athletes graduated from LCCC.

The proposal’s budget summary goes on to predict the women’s basketball program will provide increased scholarship dollars for the general fund with a total of $50,000 raised in each of the next three years, decreasing the program’s impact on the budget.

In a February 2016 Wingspan article, LCCC President Dr. Joe Schaffer said, “there will be no general fund dollars associated with the startup of this program in FY16.” The article also said the projected startup costs for the program are estimated to be $23,000, which include a partial-year salary for head coach Brian Ortmeier. Shortly after the proposal was approved and the recruitment process had started, the $2.5 million budget cut was learned of later in spring 2016. To help offset the costs of the program starting, Noble said the Athletic Department engaged in fundraising in March 2016 and was able to raise $50,000.

The proposal to bring back the women’s basketball team to LCCC has resulted in an addition of 14 students. Assistant coach Glen Kirkbride said in addition to taking 16 credit hours on campus, players are also living in the Residence Halls. Kirkbride said not only does having the players on campus increase the activity and feel on campus but also increases revenue for the school in tuition, housing, meal plan and other student fees included in enrollment.

Another source of revenue from the women’s basketball team comes from the Wyoming Community College Commission. LCCC receives funding from the WCCC annually based on a complex allocation model that uses variables such as total student enrollment and completion rate to calculate the total funding LCCC can receive per student. Rick Johnson, vice president of finance, said it is hard to pinpoint how much funding is given by the WCCC for just the women’s basketball team because of the many variables used for the allocation. However, with the incremental increase in student enrollment resulting from the team’s addition to campus, Johnson said with “all things being equal, LCCC currently could expect about $2,350 for each additional student in revenue growth.” Johnson also said that the amount of funding received is reviewed and evaluated every two years and is subject to change in the 2019 fiscal year. It is anticipated that LCCC will see some funding in the next biennium as a result of increased enrollment associated with women’s basketball. The projected amount to be received from the WCCC is $99,000 in the 2019 fiscal year, which is also when the projected positive net financial impact the team’s addition will give is estimated to take place.