Lack of funding results in inadequate facilities for baseball team


Wesley Wright

Patrick Chun is strapped.

After working at Ohio State University for 15 years, Chun replaced former Athletic Director Craig Angelos at Florida Atlantic University. Since arriving in Boca Raton in July 2012, the stark contrast between the circumstances of the two universities is painfully evident. Quite simply, FAU doesn’t have the type of financial freedom that Ohio State does.

“Completely different,” said Chun, when asked how the financial situation was at Ohio State. “You’re talking a 130 million dollar operating budget. We have a 24 million dollar operating budget, with a chunk of that going to our football stadium.”

More financial support is sorely needed. The lack of funding is evident as soon as you see the stadium in which the baseball team plays. Players pull out a weather-beaten tarp onto the field when rain is expected. Many of the seats (which are all behind home plate) have lost their original color.

“Because we don’t have the operating dollars to assist them, we have to got to go in the community and see who would like to help us support that baseball program,” Chun said. “And we’re actively doing it.”

But the stadium doesn’t reflect it. Wood rots in the dugout. Wasps are frequent outside of the press box. If spectators would like to use the restroom — and many will, since games regularly last three to four hours — they have to leave the baseball complex to do so.

But this isn’t just any team at FAU. The FAU baseball program is the most successful athletic program. Chun himself made it a point to mention that the success of the school’s two most significant sports — basketball and football — directly correlates to the baseball program, its most successful one.

“Our major revenue sports — football and men’s basketball — aren’t bringing in the revenue they need to bring in right now,” he said. “There’s an effect that has on the rest of the campus.”

Yet baseball amenities are still neglected.

“Baseball is our marquee sport based on historical wins and losses,” Chun said. “It’s the one that consistently goes furthest in the postseason, and it’s one that we prioritize significantly in this department. If there was a quick answer, it would have been answered by now.”

Everything comes back to finances. The same failed method of gaining funding is the one that FAU Baseball will lean on going into this season. There is no reason to think that people who did not pour money into the program in past seasons will do so now. For whatever reason, the support has never really been there.

Even equipped with that knowledge, Chun still believes that the clout that head coach John McCormack carries in the Boca community could benefit the program.

“We’re fortunate to have a baseball coach who was raised here in Boca and is respected in the Boca community,” Cun said. “We are just trying to meet people, make friends and see who would like to help us with the program.”

The athletics budget will not grow overnight, and the baseball team will continue to scrape by with what little resources they have.

Chun seems to have put the duty on the other major athletics programs to succeed so that the revenue can trickle down to help out everyone else. Unfortunately, baseball will have to wait and see if head coach Mike Jarvis can turn basketball around and if head coach Charlie Partridge is the man who can start a culture of winning within the football program.

Regardless of what goes on with the baseball program, Chun has vowed to be at many of the Owls’ home games this coming year, and not just because he is obligated to.

“I go to as many [games] as I can. I’ll actually go to more baseball this year because I’m on the NCAA Baseball Committee now, which will require mean to go to more games, which is good. My first job in athletics was traveling with the baseball team, so it kind of takes me back to my first love in college athletics.”

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By The Numbers

FAU baseball has racked up the most wins compared to the other two major sports — football and basketball. But the baseball team has a significantly lower budget.

Baseball total budget — $524,409

Basketball total budget — $1,215,450

Football total budget — $3,429,418

[chart width=”540″ height=”250″ type=”3dpie” title=”FAU Sports Budget” data=”520000,1300000,3500000″ legend=”Baseball|Basketball|Football” label=”Baseball|Basketball|Football” colors=”FF9900|E40B0B|1B9A1B|3399CC|BBCCED”]
Source: FAU 2013-14 Operating Budget