The University of Nevada, Reno currently has 15 NCAA affiliated sports programs on campus. Some of those included are staples of college campuses such as football, women’s basketball and cross country. These programs are generally known by the community at large. However, these aren’t the only sports programs at the university, there are actually 36 others.
Club sports have a long history at the university, with many of the clubs coming from the remnants of former NCAA teams—rifle and the winter sports club are just a couple of examples.
These clubs offer students an opportunity to compete in a sport they love, while also representing the university. President of the winter sports club, James Henderson, recognizes this as one of the facets that drew him to the club.
“Club Sports have let me participate in a sport that I love and compete under a university that I care deeply for. I was given the opportunity to race after high school under the winter sports club here at [Nevada],” Henderson said. “It allows me to continue to enjoy aspects of the sport that I love, such as the lifelong friendships that this sport brings,”.
These programs only receive a tiny fragment of the funding that their recognized counterparts receive, but that doesn’t hold them back. Within the last two years, three of these programs have competed for national titles—boxing, winter sports and men’s rugby.
In April, Nevada boxer Davis Ault—grandson of former Nevada football coach Chris Ault—won the national title in the 139-pound class. For his efforts, he was also named an All-American in the sport.
The winter sports club took home a national championship of their own in March of 2018. The men’s ski team took first place in Skier Cross at the national USCSA collegiate competition. Nicolo Monforte, a former member of the team and Truckee native, led the team to victory.
Men’s rugby has also competed at a high level recently. President of the team, Joshua Serafino, hopes to see more support in the community going forward.
“The rugby team needs to have more support on and off-campus. We are a nationally governed team. We don’t just play other club rugby teams. We play actual colleges like Stanford for example whose school helps pay for things like busses and travel,” Serafino said. “Our team at [Nevada] has given the university a lot of attention recently,”.
Two years ago, the men’s rugby team made it all the way to nationals. Their success got little to no attention by the Nevada sports community.
“This club has been around UNR since 1898, only two years younger than [the] football team. We deserve more attention on campus,” Serafino said.
This lack of acknowledgment is a common thread shared among a majority of the clubs. By lack of acknowledgment, that means not only a lack of support from the sports faring community but from the larger Nevada community.
Club president of the men’s lacrosse team, Chase Browning, recognizes this as a potential hurdle facing the team.
“Club sports place on campus right now is definitely minuet, it’s small, there’s not a lot of outreach,” Browning said. “There’s very few students, outside of friends and family, that come out to support our games, so it’s just not a lot of recognition from the university itself, campus life or student involvement,”.
One potential reason for this could be a lack of funding. Club sports are responsible for funding much of their own supplies. The university allotted budget doesn’t even begin to approach what is needed to cover most of the costs involved with these sports.
Additionally, Nevada’s athletic budget is already tight, so the likelihood of receiving further funding is unlikely. According to the Knight Commission, Nevada’s athletic budget is currently the fourth-smallest budget in the Mountain West. The Knight Commission is a group that monitors academic standards for athletes and the financial records of college athletic offices to ensure the integrity of collegiate sports.
All of these factors into the burdens that have been placed on the backs of club sports. Do they choose to recruit athletes and advertise matches or allocate proper funding for the team? How do they communicate effectively to the student body?
These are just a few of the questions currently staring club sports in the face. Regardless, these teams will continue to compete at a high level.
Ryan Freeberg can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.