Club sports are not the same as NCAA sports.
The university is drastically involved in the latter, and takes a backseat in the former. NCAA athletes spend time commitments equal to that of a full time job. Club athletes typically spend a few hours a week dedicated to their sport. NCAA teams have full time employees. Club sports are ran by the athletes and volunteers.
Comparing club sports to the NCAA is like comparing JV to varsity. But what if the club sport operates more like an NCAA sport?
Colorado State’s Division I ice hockey team is a club sport. It does not play in the NCAA, but rather the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). It operates very similarly to an NCAA affiliated team, yet does not reap the benefits of being one.
“On any given week, from September through August, hockey related activities take up about 10 to 15 hours,” team treasurer Eric Killam said. “That includes practices, games, meeting and lifting.”
What the 10-15 hours fails to include is the two to five hours a week completing administrative duties.
So now that time commitment looks more like a part-time job. Add a job around town (the ACHA doesn’t have crippling rules like the NCAA) and that time commitment jumps up a bit more. And how can we forget about being a student-athlete? Tack on some more hours to the schedule.
A schedule like that can make things tricky for players’ schooling, but professors appear to be more than accommodating to the Rams busy schedule.
“When we travel we get letters that excuse us from class,” Killam said. “And if we are missing a test or assignment we have to coordinate with our teacher when to make up the work.”
Its easy to push all that aside and say that’s still nothing compared to the rigorous NCAA schedules, but in reality that is about as close to the NCAA you can get without actually being in it.
The Rams’ schedule this season included trips to New York, North Dakota and Arizona, among other closer out-of-state destinations. For an NCAA team that is no big deal; let the university pick up the tab. But, for a club sport left to pay its own way, that becomes a hefty fee.
“All the travel is paid for by the players,” Killam said. “The University gives us some funding, but most of the money generated by the team is from player dues at the beginning of the season.”
The CSU hockey team looks like an NCAA team, acts like an NCAA team, travels similarly to an NCAA team but pays for it all.
Things would be a lot easier for players if the program was NCAA affiliated, but that’s out of the question for all sorts of reasons. The next best thing would be more money to support the program, (*cough, cough* CSU).
“At the end of the day we are the only hockey team CSU has,” sophomore Blake Davies said. “Whether we’re NCAA or not we still represent the green and gold against other universities across the country and it would be nice if we had full support from our school…a little support could make a huge difference for our program. “
The Rocky Mountain Showdown moves to the ice Thursday at the Pepsi Center, as the Rams (9-23-2-3) will face off against the University of Colorado (25-7-0-2).
Collegian Sports Reporter Chad Deutschman can be reached by email at email@example.com or by Twitter @Chaddeutschman.