By CAYLEE HANNA
The Amarillo College board of regents approved bringing intercollegiate sports to AC and a new fundraising campaign during their latest meeting. The regents voted to approve men’s and women’s cross country, women’s volleyball, and men’s baseball as well as applying for membership to the National Junior College Athletic Association and to the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. Denese Skinner, vice president of student affairs, said that if the athletics program grows, more women’s sports could be added in the future.
“The game plan that we laid out was for us to work each year to become title noncompliant by adding another women’s sport,” Skinner said. “We won’t ever add a men’s sport because it just doesn’t work for Title Nine. We’ll just have baseball in men’s cross country. If we add other sports in the future, it would just be the women’s sports, trying to get our balance to what our student population is right now with females, our women are, you know, 65 percent of our student population.”
Michele Fortunato, a board of regents member, said that she is concerned about how the program will affect the salaries of other staff members that are not connected to the program, but she is excited to see intercollegiate sports at AC.
“I think it’s very exciting,” Fortunato said. “But I feel like we’re getting spread kind of thin. And I’m just concerned about being able to support the model financially and really how it affects it could affect other employees that are not involved in athletics. I mean I just worry about them. If we’re gonna raise money I might want to raise money to keep their jobs. So that’s kind of where I am not sure.”
The athletics program is scheduled to begin in 2022 which gives AC time to fundraise for the new program and hire staff members to coach the teams.
“We would like, since we’re a year and a half in advance, to get the funding started now so that we can get ahead of all of this,” Paul Proffer, chairman of the board of regents, said. “This plan is for five years during what we’d like to get a year and a half, additional fundraising before we start, and that is one reason. Coaches would have to be hired probably by at least next summer, which is a year in advance so we like to at least have some fundraising to cover salaries.”
During the board meeting, the regents also approved a new fundraising campaign called Badger Bold. This campaign will not only benefit AC, but it will benefit Amarillo as a whole.
“You’re gonna see a lot of things as we move forward with this campaign because we have given the campaign this tagline. Badger bold,” Joe Bill Sherrod, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the AC foundation, said. “It’s the campaign for Amarillo and not the campaign for Amarillo College. Our philosophy on that is simply that what we do for the college benefits the city and region. And so we’re going to be very intentional about how we name the campaign.”
The campaign will also help fundraise money for the honors program budget, which is used when the students travel abroad. The campaign has raised roughly $2 million for the honors program so far.
“I think we have $2 million, maybe three allocated to raise for honors. I believe the original figure was to raise a million,” Sherrod said.