Q&A with Athletic Director Garet Studer

EvCC Athletic Director Garet Studer discusses COVID-19, athletes’ safety, competitions, athletic fund and motivation as Trojans prepare for competition in a few weeks.

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Katja Wahl

Garet Studer, EvCC’s Athletic Director, poses in front of the fitness center’s trophy case.

How have teams dealt with the pandemic in the 2020-21 school year?  Talking with some coaches, they have been able to stay engaged through group chats and team meetings. Overall, I think things have been really positive.   

Have there been any outbreaks?  No. We have done some 14-day quarantining on some athletes. But, [they’ve] tested negative, thankfully. 

Are you frustrated with the NWAC’s handling of the virus? Do you think their guidelines for returning to play are too harsh?  We have seen other collegiate conferences across the country that have flat out canceled sports seasons. I think the NWAC did everything in their power to have some instances of a season. … [while] keeping student-athletes’ safety at the forefront with different mandates in wearing masks.         

Have coaches expressed any frustration with how the season is going?  I have had lots of conversations with coaches, but I don’t think it was frustration necessarily; it was trying to obtain clarity about following rules and making sure everyone is safe. … The biggest thing coaches had talked about was making sure they had the right information so that they could relay definite answers to the student-athletes and their parents.      

Other schools and pro teams are having games, traveling to away stadiums and having fans in attendance. Is it frustrating EvCC isn’t given this luxury?  The reality is that the pro teams and division one schools are able to do the rapid testing multiple times a week and before contests. They are able to definitively prove that their athletes, going into contests with exposure situations, are COVID-free. We just don’t have that ability. It’s about $80 a test, and if you multiply that out by 200 athletes a couple times a week, it’s just a lot of money. … But, we are trying to combat that with live-streaming as many games as possible so family or fans can watch safely from home.

Garet Studer looks on as the women’s basketball team practices. (Katja Wahl)

With the pandemic, how has the athletic fund been affected?  Without spectators, we have not been able to collect ticket/gate sales … [or] concession money. One of the bigger things is we haven’t been able to rent out our gym to third parties. … With that being said, there are less games and traveling this year, so we haven’t spent as much … There’s going to be some cost-savings that I think will help bridge the gap that we’re seeing from a loss of revenue, ticket sales, concessions and gym rentals.   

How much money is in the athletic fund now?  Each year, with all of the teams’ budgets and the athletic admin and payroll, it’s about $700,000 total. … Our hope is that we come out to that zero balance or have a little extra when you factor in paying scholarships, loss of revenue from ticket sales and gym rentals, but less expenses in the area of travel and paying officials.      

Is the school ordering more masks for the athletes?  We have another set of masks that are coming for all athletes; we are going to hand those out once we get a little closer to competition sometime in March. With the mandate of mask-wearing [during competition]. … It is important for them to find something … that’s going to stay on their face comfortably and that’s easy as possible to breathe in. … athletes don’t necessarily have to wear the masks we provide.

What do you say motivationally to EvCC athletes who are skeptical on having competition and limited games, on how to raise their spirits?   We are doing everything we can to have competition and a season in a safe way. … [Athletes] are here because they want to play and we want to provide that opportunity as much as possible.      

After many months of training and almost a year without competitions, cross country has their first meet on Feb. 13 while the rest of the teams begin the first week in April. 

Click here to see team rosters and schedules.