A projected funding cut has the potential to endanger the TRU WolfPack baseball team’s existence, according to head coach Ray Chadwick.
“I’ll keep my office and I’ll keep the things that they [TRU] do on paper for us, but, yeah, we won’t get any more financial help,” said Chadwick, who has been at the Pack’s helm since 2003.
In the past, the program has received between $20,000 and $30,000 annually from TRU, one source told KTW.
“There will be a change with the funding,” WolfPack athletic director Curtis Atkinson confirmed. “Without getting into too much detail, we continue to want to support and have a baseball team and support them administratively, but with the funding model, there will be some changes. Everything is intact for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Going forward is where we could see some changes.”
The WolfPack baseball squad is a club team that competes outside of the U Sports umbrella in the Canadian College Baseball Conference.
“Club teams are largely self-funded when compared to varsity teams,” Atkinson said. “That’s the principle we follow. I wouldn’t say it’s a drastically different direction.”
The WolfPack baseball team is run by the Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society. Its president, Jeff Vanjoff, opted not to comment until the CCBC National Championship ends. The tournament runs from Thursday to Sunday at Norbrock Stadium.
Chadwick is concerned about losing Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society support.
“They’re a little frustrated with it,” Chadwick said. “They don’t tell me, but I know. They’re the people that have run this program and have gone to them [TRU] and got this funding.
“Taking 30,000 dollars away and we give anywhere from 30 to 45 students at the university every year, that have come here from other places, that live here, that spend money at the university and in the community. For them, 30,000 was not a lot. That’s less than a thousand dollars a player that we bring in here every year for the last 16 years.”
Atkinson said last January at his introductory press conference that his focus is on growing the WolfPack’s stable of U Sports teams.
Rugby sevens, cheerleading and baseball are listed as the WolfPack’s club teams on their website. The rugby program was nixed after the 2019 season.
The WolfPack hockey team, which toiled in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League from 2008 to 2014, was hampered by operating deficits and folded in 2014, when Ken Olynyk was the Pack’s athletic director.
Trevor Bast spearheaded a group called Revive TRU Hockey, aiming to ice a team for the 2015-2016 season, but said TRU brass had no interest in resuscitation.
“I don’t think they ever did [have interest],” Bast said in 2014. “Based on their comments, I think all of my energies with them have all been in vain.”
Chadwick said he will do everything he can to make sure baseball is not next to fizzle out.
“We’re going to cut out some stuff that we’ve been doing, games and travel, and see if we can make that money up,” Chadwick said. “We won’t be able to make it up, of course, but we’re going to try to do some things to still exist and keep playing.
“When he [Olynyk] was leaving, we found out we were going to get it [funding] for another year or two, and then it would cease. This is the end of that year or two.”
As of Tuesday, Chadwick had not broken the news to players.
“I don’t think it’s Curtis [Atkinson],” Chadwick said. “It’s something the higher-ups have decided they’re not going to do for us anymore.
“I think it’s the institution itself and whatever the things they are keen to make up for. I really don’t know. I don’t know why [the funding is being cut]. I stay out of that stuff and just show up to try and win baseball games and get kids here. We’ve gotten kids from every other province, other countries. We’ve been a successful program.”
The Pack won the CCBC championship in 2005, 2007 and 2009. TRU reached the final most recently in 2017.
“If it is to continue, it may be something I’m going to end up doing and finding ex-players to come in and help," Chadwick said. “They’re [the Kamloops Collegiate Baseball Society board] frustrated and I know that. Regardless of the $30,000 they’re [TRU] taking away and regardless if the board is fed up and ready to call it quits, I will find some way to figure out a way for us to keep playing.”