Barton Community College could add competitive swimming to is sports programming, Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs said Tuesday.
He spoke at the BCC Board of Trustees’ monthly study session, and the board will be asked for its formal stamp of approval at its next meeting on Sept. 27. If the board agrees, the next step will be to get approval from the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“It’s a great idea,” trustee Gary Burke said. “(The pool is) being under-utilized.”
“It’s unfortunate we don’t get the use out of the pool,” Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said. “It’s a wonderful resource; it’s begging for a program.”
Rolfs began his presentation with a financial analysis of Barton’s newest sports program, wrestling. When it was added in the 2015-2016 school year, administrators projected that wrestling would generate revenue greater than the expense of the program.
“Expenses vs revenue have been positive,” he said, referring to figures supplies by Dean of Administration Mark Dean.
The program brought in close to $280,000 in state aid, tuition and fees, student housing revenue and miscellaneous revenue. Expenses came to less than $231,000 and included scholarships; salaries and benefits; operations costs such as travel, recruitment, officials and supplies; and housing expenses.
The financial analysis is based on the number of students in the wrestling program, and does not take into account additional students that may have come to the school because of the program.
At this time there are 29 students in the fall wrestling program. A part-time wrestling coach was added, which will negatively affect the bottom line unless the numbers increase for the spring semester.
Research shows a swimming program for men and women could be equally successful, Rolfs said. The college already has a pool, and maintaining it costs about $45,000 a year. Revenue from Great Bend USD 428 and a private swim team is $14,000 a year.
“We’re thinking outside the box here,” Rolfs said. Like wrestling, swimming is a popular high school sport in the area but there haven’t been a lot of places for athletes to continue. Other Midwest colleges that do offer swimming are Tabor in Kansas; Iowa Central and Iowa Lakes; Oklahoma Baptist and St. Gregory’s in Oklahoma; Nebraska Wesleyan; and William Jewell in Missouri.
“I don’t see our travel as being a huge expense,” Rolfs said, adding he believes that other Kansas community college will continue to add both wrestling and swimming in the years to come.
“I can see some colleges within the conference adding this,” he said.
National rules for swim programs allow 15 letters of intent for men and 15 for women per year. Like wrestling, college officials believe they can recruit 30 students athletes, and some of those athletes may persuade their friends to come to Barton.
Heilman said he’ll recommend the program for board approval.
“It seems to be a win-win proposal,” he said. “It’s not a large sport, but there are community colleges engaged within driving distance.”
Trustees had questions but voiced support for the idea.
“I don’t think you’d have a problem getting the numbers if you get a good coach,” trustee Mike Minton said.
“The community is really focused on swimming,” said trustee Don Learned. “This is a sport they love.”
board chairman Mike Johnson asked if there would be scheduling problems with the youth teams. He learned the pool is usually available until 4 p.m.
However, Dean said there will be equipment needs, such as lane ropes. The ones recently purchased are for the school teams. “We will see if they can be shared,” he said.
There is also the question of whether there will be enough student housing, but Dean said he expects many of the students who come to swim will be local.