Athletic programs could be greatly affected by rising travel costs

Published 8:31 am Friday, July 4, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
Washington High School athletic director Darin Vaughan hopes that rising travel costs won’t keep parents from traveling to see their kids play.
Thursday, gas prices hit an all-time high of $4.098 per gallon, just over a dollar increase in the national gas price average of $3.082 at this same time last year.
Vaughan’s biggest fear is that eventually some parents won’t be able to afford to make some of the road trips necessary to see their kids play.
However, with the slumping economy and daily gas price increases, Vaughan also realizes that his fear could soon become a reality.
And he’s trying to take steps to prevent it.
In 2009, the Pam Pack’s travel costs will surely increase when the new redistricting plan kicks in. The Pam Pack will drop New Bern and J.H Rose from the schedule and add Jacksonville and White Oak.
Northside athletic director Keith Boyd also is taking steps to cut down on travel costs. The head of the Panthers’ sports program believes that it’s his responsibility to keep the traveling to a minimum.
High schools athletic departments aren’t the only programs that are considering changes because of the rising travel costs.
East Carolina University athletic director Terry Holland is also well aware of the affect that travel costs will have on his program.
At the Division-I level, a large portion of the expenses are budgeted to travel. The programs must pay for airfare, lodging, bus rides, and meals, all of which have increased over the last year.
there is no way to change their budgets as all expected revenues are already budgeted, they have become very resourceful,” Holland said. “These days they are looking for even better airline, motel, and meal deals and cut back on non-conference travel by scheduling near-by opponents.
Holland also feels that Conference-USA should be willing to think “out of the box” when it comes to setting schedules.
Holland believes that college athletic programs need to take the lead in addressing America’s economic situation.