Budget Cuts, New Coaching Staff for Athletics Department

SNC’s athletic department undergoes big changes

Erin Wilson, Editor

Lacrosse head coach Matt Day

In addition to recent faculty layoffs at SNC, the athletic department has also been affected by budget cuts. Student athletes
typically make up about 38% of Sierra Nevada College’s student body; however, this year that percentage was lower than expected due to a nationwide cultural shift in high school graduates and college enrollment.

Overall changes in the athletic department consist of the decline in the number of student athletes at SNC, a shortfall in athletes recruited for peripheral sports like cross country and golf, the departure of head ski coach Branko Zagar, the departure of men’s lacrosse team head coach Matt Blamey, and the promotion of men’s lacrosse team assistant coach Matt Day to head coach.

A nationwide shift in higher learning trends suggests that not as many high-schoolers are graduating and attending college compared to previous years. This shift has affected enrollment in universities throughout the nation, and SNC is no exception.

President Alan Walker said, “The number of regular students this year was lower than projected, as well as student athletes. I believe some of the same factors apply: changing national demographics, greater interest in career-focused programs, cost of attendance, and so on.”

After contributing to the success of the men’s lacrosse team, which is ranked number 4 in the Division II MCLA league, coach Matt Blamey departed from the team and accepted a coaching position at the University of Arizona.

“It was an amicable departure. There’s no hard feelings. It’s a great opportunity for him [Blamey] to coach at the University of Arizona. We still keep in touch and talk to each other about the team,” said Day, the new men’s lacrosse team head coach.

The hiring of Day to replace Blamey was a seamless transition since Day already knew the ins and outs of the SNC lacrosse program. Day has been coaching for nine years and is confident that the lacrosse program will overcome the challenges associated with budget cuts.

“Obviously athletics is not the only group getting hit with budget cuts. You just need to adjust and do the best you can with what you have. It’s usually enough; you just have to readjust,” Day said.

In addition to Blamey, Slovanian ski coaching legend Branko Zagar has also left SNC after ten successful seasons.

Despite the challenges the athletic department has faced this year, interim athletic director Chris DeLeon is hopeful that his passion for all sports will be able to “strengthen the department enough until a permanent athletic director is hired.”

Several factors have contributed to the shortfall of students in sports like golf and cross country, but DeLeon said the main factor was a lack of recruiting for all sports. “After the final projection number, athletics just hit or just missed their number,” DeLeon said.

SNC has filled coaching positions for both the golf and cross country teams for their upcoming seasons.