To the People of Wyoming,
You might have heard or read about a proposal before the Wyoming Legislature to allocate a total of $8 million to match private donations in support of University of Wyoming Athletics over the next two years. We feel that the people of Wyoming deserve to have the facts about this proposal, which would maintain a highly successful matching program that has been instrumental in helping UW’s teams remain competitive in a rapidly changing intercollegiate athletics landscape.
First, it is important to correct the misconception that these matching dollars would be a new expenditure for the state. That is not the case. They would continue to fund a program instituted by legislators two years ago to encourage private gifts to support UW athletics. We also want to make sure that people know that these additional dollars help student-athletes in all 17 of our NCAA-sponsored sports, not just a select number of sports.
We, as head coaches at UW, know from personal experience that the Cowboys and Cowgirls are a great source of pride for the people of Wyoming and for Wyoming fans and alumni everywhere. We can’t thank our fans, the state Legislature and Governor Mead enough for the support they show our young men and women. We want the state to know just how important this money is to our student-athletes and to the future success of Wyoming Athletics.
The $4 million per year in matching funds that has been recommended by Governor Mead and the Joint Appropriations Committee actually reflects a cut of $1 million per year (20 percent) from the previous year’s budget. At a time when state revenues are declining, this reduction is an appropriate, though difficult, adjustment.
It is also important to remember that this is a matching fund. We must raise $4 million to receive the $4 million in state funding.
For those of you who wonder how this money is being spent, here are the areas of the UW Athletics budget that are supported by the matching dollars:
• Cost of Attendance: Beginning this past year, the NCAA passed legislation allowing universities to help student-athletes cover costs otherwise not covered by athletic scholarships. As we have gone out recruiting over the past year, this is a promise that we have made to our recruits, as well as a promise we’ve made to our current student-athletes. It is money that was included in last year’s budget and is money that is being provided to student-athletes in all sports.
• Nutrition: This is another area within the past year that the NCAA has begun allowing schools to expand. Like Cost of Attendance, a commitment to the nutritional needs of our student-athletes is important to develop them to their full potential.
• Sports Medicine: A first-class sports medicine program for all of our student-athletes, including dealing with such issues as concussions and mental health, is critical to the well-being of our young men and women.
• Team Travel: Funding for team travel is key to allow our teams to travel as efficiently as possible, including reducing missed class time.
• Recruiting: Recruiting is critical for us to maintain competitiveness within the Mountain West Conference.
Continued support of the matching-funds program by the governor and the Legislature is essential to our efforts to continue building a Wyoming Athletics program of which you can be proud. We are extremely proud of the efforts of the Cowboys and Cowgirls to represent the university and the state. We are proud of the way they compete on the field. We are proud of the way they perform in the classroom, including 233 UW student-athletes achieving a 2015 spring semester grade point average over 3.0 while studying in 63 different majors. And we are proud of the way they give back to the people of Wyoming, with over 4,200 hours of community service completed by our young men and women a year ago and over 3,700 hours thus far this academic year.
We know you are proud of them too, and we thank you again for all of the support you show them.
Craig Bohl, Larry Shyatt and Joe Legerski