The Collegian
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Rocco discusses football players' pre-game hotel stays

The University of Richmond athletic department annually budgets an undisclosed amount so the football team can sleep in hotels the night before home games, a practice common among almost every team in Division I football.

It is not the athletic department's policy to give exact budget figures, but athletic department officials said this undisclosed amount came from private donations specified by the donor.

Danny Rocco, Richmond's head coach, said the tradition was necessary for game-day performance. "It's a matter of control," Rocco said. "In hotel rooms we can keep the team together, united, organized... but in the dorm rooms we have no control."

The precariousness introduced when football players share walls with students celebrating their typical Friday night helps justify the school's costs. "It's risky," Rocco said, "and unnecessary."

Lack of sleep, bad influences, team unity, game-plan meetings, medical check-ups and team meals are all ensured when the selected players, usually numbering in the high 60s, use hotels. The entire team does not take part; only select players.

The funds for these stays are not included in the team's regular budget, Rocco said, but instead stem from private donations to either "us (the football team) or the athletic department."

When asked if the football team uses private donations meant for the entire athletic department toward hotel expenses, Keith Gill, director of athletics, said, "We use restricted funds to pay for our football team's overnight stay in a hotel prior to home contests. Restricted funds by definition are donated for a specific purpose and we are required to use those funds in a manner consistent with the intent of the donor."

Hotels are also not a matter of "extravagance," Rocco said. Players eat Jimmy John's, or something similar, while at hotels and then eat at Heilman Dining Center the morning of a home game.

"Also, if home teams didn't use hotels before game days," Rocco said, "that would mean the only team getting a good sleep is the away team."

Contact staff writer Ben Casella at ben.casella@richmond.edu

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