Jun 15, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterA change in course fees and credits for equine studies at Central Wyoming College should have a positive financial impact on students in the Rustler rodeo program.
In the past, rodeo students accumulated credits to account for their practice time. Fees for the practice courses supported operation of the rodeo program, but Steve Barlow, CWC's assistant dean of student services, said team members were accumulating too many credits that did not count toward degree completion.
"(That) restricts their access to financial aid," he said in a report to the CWC Board of Trustees.
"The fees associated with these courses create an excessive burden on students, (and) excess credits are a burden in the recruitment of new student athletes."
In his memo to the board, Barlow said rodeo students under the previous system accumulated 42 excess classroom hours over the course of three years, mostly due to the courses covering practice time.
This year, a subcommittee of the school's student and academic council decided rodeo students no longer need to accumulate credits to account for practice.
Instead, CWC will increase the fee for varsity rodeo from $225 to $325 per term.
With two semesters per year and about 29 students on the rodeo team, he said the $325 fee will result in $18,850 in revenue for CWC, compared to $13,050 under the previous rate.
"This would partially offset the fees lost by not enrolling in the ... practice courses," Barlow said in his memo.
Increased funding from the college will be necessary to offset the rest of the decline in revenue from fees, but CWC president Jo Anne McFarland said the expenditure is in the best interest of students and their educational future.
"And we believe we can handle it," she said.
In the past, rodeo students were required to take 15 credits a year. Now, they will be expected to enroll in seven annual credits: fall term varsity rodeo, strength and flexibility, rodeo marketing, spring term varsity rodeo, advanced strength and flexibility, and rodeo marketing two.
Under the new program, Barlow said at least three of the 21 credits rodeo students will earn over three years will count toward a degree, leaving 18 excess credits as opposed to 42 in the previous system.
"This proposal is very consistent with the credits student athletes earn in basketball and volleyball," Barlow said. "The only difference would probably be the marketing classes, which will be converted to a co-curricular course for community engagement or professional development."
The changes will eliminate many issues students have encountered with financial aid due to excess credit hour accumulation. Jason Wood, CWC's executive vice president for student and academic services, said the extra credit hours for rodeo practice do not transfer to other schools. Many students use their financial aid to pay for the practice course, meaning they have less money to use for further study when they transfer.
"The rodeo coach is ecstatic about this opportunity," Wood said. "This gives him a tremendous recruiting advantage."
CWC's 29-person rodeo team is larger now than it has been "in a long time," Wood said, but coach Andrew Schrock wants to expand to include 40-50 students in the program.
"He's really taken it to heart," Wood said. "He's committed to growing rodeo."
The CWC Board approved the change to rodeo courses and fees during its meeting in April.
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