WITS University under budgets its sports clubs and lacks a balance between sports and academics according to various sports club committees.
Tight budgets and stringent quotation procedures (for purchasing equipment) make it difficult to manage clubs effectively.
Added to this is that Wits Sports Administration cannot make provision for transport in their club budgets and some say funding is cut every year.
While members expressed gratitude for the budgets they received and support at University Sports South Africa tournament, they felt it was not enough and was not on the same level as other universities.
Many clubs hold fundraisers but couldn’t find more time outside maintaining their studies to do it vigorously.
Graham Rex, chairperson of Wits Rowing Club said he understood that rowing is an expensive sport and members needed to contribute, but the budget they are given is too small.
“We are basically funding a substantial part of our participation out of our own pockets,” said Rex.
The costs deterred keen students from getting involved as they could not afford it. Rex added they received a budget which is 12% of what their major competitor, University of Johannesburg (UJ), received and that it was “amazing they were able to compete and often beat them”.
He added that he doesn’t know how Wits could be a top 100 university “when they neglect their sports so much”.
Members from the netball and hockey clubs – who did not want to be named – felt the same as Rex and said budgets only covered the basics.
“The majority of sports clubs could do with more money,” said snow ski club chairperson, Jamie Bentley. A major portion of their budget will go towards competing in a national snowboarding event.
Wits Sports Council (WSC) treasurer Kent Davis said, “Wits Sport is under tremendous financial pressures to sustain sport at its current level.
“The grant given from the University for the various sports clubs isn’t enough to cover the very basic costs needed to run a university sporting side, let alone a competitive one.”
Brendon von Essen, WSC chairperson added: “Wits, while placing primacy on academics, needs to nurture its [sports] as it could risk losing publicity, reputation…and subsequently lose excellent students…to institutions such as UCT that have comparative academic standards but a far larger sports budget.”