CRC feeling the burn

Herophilus — the Greek physician who lived from 325- 280 B.C. — said many years ago, “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless and intelligence cannot be applied.”

Northern Kentucky University students seem to have taken his warning to heart as 51 percent of students utilized the Campus Recreation Center during 2008-2009, according to the CRC Future committee. But, despite good attendance numbers, the CRC is facing budget issues.

According to a presentation given to Student Government Association Jan. 11 by CRC Director Matt Hackett, “Students have come to expect high quality recreational programs, as well as state-of-the-art equipment and services.”

Some of the issues brought before SGA were increasing CRC operating hours, as well as increasing student employment, expanding the intramural club, outdoor adventures and — perhaps most importantly — increasing funding for sports clubs and establishing an equipment repair/replace fund.

Establishing an equipment repair/replace fund is one of the big issues right now for the CRC. They were given $150,000 last year by SGA to replace old equipment. According to Hackett, “There were machines out of order or, in some cases, big holes where the machine was.”

The CRC has replaced the broken equipment, and in some cases upgraded, but Hackett also stresses that without a repair/replace fund the CRC will face the same problem again in the future.

The CRC looked at fitness centers from seven other colleges: Western Kentucky University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Oakland University, Southern Illinois at Edwardsville and Eastern Michigan University.
The CRC future committee then compared NKU to these other universities to see how NKU measured up.

In addition to being one of the largest employers of students — more than 95 of them — the center must maintain equipment, buy new equipment and pay other staff along with a myriad of daily operational costs with a fraction of the budget of comparable universities.

The average operating budget for the other seven universities was $1.46 million. NKU is operating on nearly half of that according to the CRC Future Committee. In addition to operating on half of the budget of other universities, NKU is also working with about half of the recommended space per student.

According to the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association, a university the size of NKU should have 9.8 square feet of space per student. NKU currently has 4.4 square feet per student, which can result in some close quarters when the facility is particularly busy.

According to Hackett, the Master Plan for NKU calls for a new CRC to be built, although he is unsure of when that will be.

Hackett said that the CRC weathered the worst part of the financial storm last year when gas prices were topping $4 a gallon. Now he says the center has plans, but is just waiting for funds to become available.

He also stresses that right now, it’s about what SGA wants to do with the presentation.

When SGA President Keith Kaseke was asked about the presentation and what SGA was going to do, he responded that SGA will support the CRC but that the specifics were still in committee.

Story by Vern Hockney