Renegades battle static budget



Scott Wilson, Mike Sempek and Ryan Miller discuss future Renegades budgeting plans at an April 17 meeting.

By Sports & Health

Budget cuts may be sweeping across campus, but the Renegades organization has yet to take a hit. However, the growth the organization has experienced throughout the last school year—including the addition of new teams as well as increasing promotion and outreach—has raised concerns about whether the standard funds the college awards  the Renegades will stretch enough to cover its growing costs.

Mike Sempek, president of the Renegades student athletic organization, said the group receives $8,000 per semester from the school, which is dispersed among all Columbia teams. This semester, the Renegades acknowledged three additional teams—ice hockey, lacrosse and softball—making it more difficult to budget their already limited funds to Renegades teams, old and new. 

“We only get $8,000 a year to spend toward the teams and events,” Sempek said. “We have added three new teams this year, so it will be hard to spread it out. It’s going to be very difficult because it’s already put a huge stress on us. We are going to have more teams that start next fall semester  just because new students come and they want more activities.”

Asher Kline, ice hockey captain and freshman cinema art + science major, said he is not too concerned about the team’s budget.

“We will do what we have to do,” Kline said. “We will raise the funds and figure it out if we have to, but there will still be an ice

hockey team.”

Sempek said the Renegades currently operate using a tier system, which ranks teams by considering how far they have to travel to compete in leagues and games. Each team is awarded a certain amount of money, but the growing number of teams and players could leave the organization coming up short.

“The teams have done so well and gotten themselves into leagues and travel,” Sempek said. “We basically said they can have more money than we have to give out, which is partly because we didn’t have that many teams before.”

Corbin Merriman, captain of the Renegades baseball team and a junior business & entrepreneurship major, said he is slightly concerned about the future of the Renegades baseball team.

“Because there is only $8,000 for all the teams, it definitely dwindles down to some teams not getting enough money, or some teams having to carry their own expenses,” Merriman said. “As far as baseball goes, we are definitely one of the more expensive sports because we have to travel. We have to rent out fields, pay umpires, things like that, which really add expenses.

According to Sempek, the Renegades board is currently in the process of completely redeveloping its program for next year because its tier system backfired this semester.

“We are planning to reassess and completely redevelop our program for how we get [money to teams], making it more participation based,” Sempek said. “This will make it so teams will have to work toward participation as far as events go. Teams will have to attend more organized events, not just athletic ones, and they will also need to earn their money. They need to provide more on their own and collect more individual dues.”

Scott Wilson, vice president of the Renegades and a senior cinema art + science major, said the board is brainstorming different ideas, and has yet to find a successful program that will work for all teams.

“It’s hard because you test them out and you never form an idea thinking that it’s not going to work,” Wilson said. “We came up with the tier system last semester thinking it was foolproof, and it has so many problems already. We are trying to see how many of those we can eliminate and, so far, things are looking good. We are making it harder for teams to get money. They won’t be guaranteed it, like in the past.”

According to Sempek, the Renegades have to plan strategically how they will use the $8,000 the organization receives each semester. Whatever they do not spend goes back to the school rather than rolling over for the organizations use the following semester, Sempek said. If they burn through all of the money too quickly though, there will be no safety net. 

“We always try to budget out, and we are working hard with our treasurer, Rachael [Vena],” Sempek said. “It’s very hard to make sure we have enough to last until the end of the year, but also not extra. [It’s like] going on vacation and you have some money left over and you get a bunch of souvenirs—you have to make the most of it.”

Rachael Vena, treasurer of the Renegades, declined to comment regarding the current budget changes for the Fall 2015 Semester.