Many students at the University of Richmond are friends with one or more of the hundreds of Division I athletes on campus. They see them in class, the dining hall and support them during competition. But what many students don't see are the perks student-athletes receive to help them perform well on the field and in the classroom.
The life of a student-athlete at Richmond is hectic, complex and stressful, but in some cases it is luxurious. The baseball team travels to many of its games in a bus like so many other sports on this campus do. But this bus is special. It is in fact a tractor-trailer equipped with about 21 beds stacked three rows high, said Alex Maffett, a junior pitcher for the Spiders.
"The bus has wireless internet and TVs which is nice for school purposes," he said.
Director of Athletics Jim Miller said the bus also helped the men catch up on sleep.
"Many of the teams elect to use [the bus] so they can sleep on the way home after an away game," he said.
Maffett said he liked the sleeper bus, but wished there was another transportation option when the team had to travel far distances.
"Some road trips we have are 14 to 15 hours long," he said. "There have been many times we have gotten back from a series at 4 a.m., and then we're expected to be in our 9 a.m. classes." He said if the team was able to fly to games more often, then the players would be better prepared for their classes.
Flying is an option for the men's basketball team, though. Associate head coach Kevin McGeehan said that if the distance to an away game was within four to five hours, they would charter a bus. But anything more than that would constitute the need for a flight.
"Usually we take a commercial flight if it's a weekend," McGeehen said, "Which means our time is not restricted as far as getting back to campus.
"If we are going during the week and it's going to affect classes, we might charter a plane so that they can be back to class by Thursday morning," he said.
The basketball season comprises 31 games that span two semesters. McGeehan said that because of the length of the season and frequency of games (the team can play as many as four games in a week), flying reduced missed classes and allowed the players to spend more time on campus.
"We try to make as much class time available to the players as possible," McGeehan said.
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Miller said the decision to charter a plane came up when game travel jeopardized time spent in the classroom.
"We do a cost-benefit analysis before making the decision to charter," he said.
Some finances that help support these athlete perks are budgeted, and some are donated funds. The football team, which stays in hotel rooms the night before home games, has its bill picked up by a donated fund sponsored by alumni.
Football, basketball and baseball are often thought of as the three most visible sports on campus. And some players think there exists a sports hierarchy in terms of amenities and perks.
Shannon Cudahy, senior midfielder for the women's lacrosse team, thinks so.
"The teams that fly, like men' s basketball and football, are the same sports that bring the most attention and publicity to the university," she said. "Unfortunately, there are teams who have performed extremely well on a consistent basis, like women's swimming, who do not receive the same attention or amenities."
Maffett agreed with Cudahy. He said he felt the sports that brought more revenue to the school were rewarded through better transportation.
"Obviously, if a sport brings in a lot of money, they are going to have more money to spend for their players." he said. "Baseball does not bring in a lot of money for the school since we don't charge for entry to our games, so we have less room to spend money than say, basketball, for example."
This year is the first year that athletes have been given special parking passes. The passes allow athletes to park closer to practices and games without being ticketed. The athletic department ensured that all athletes received the passes, and the reaction has been positive.
"They are so nice to have," Cudahy said. "The passes have been extremely helpful because it allows athletes to get to practice and classes on time."
Contact staff writer Julia Pepe at email@example.com
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