Varsity Basketball

Wichita schools to cut C-team sports, coaching positions

The Wichita school district could cut 24 high school coaching positions and eliminate the same number of C-team and sophomore athletic teams for the 2011-12 year to help fill a $30 million shortfall in state and federal funding.

The cuts are projected to save the district $172,083, City League athletic director Bill Faflick said Monday.

Ticket prices to varsity events and middle-school sports next year may increase by $1, which Faflick projects will bring in an additional $50,000. He said the price increase was needed to avoid further athletics cuts.

C-teams, for sophomores and freshmen, are used to develop athletes who otherwise lack the talent or experience to compete at the varsity level.

"We use the C-team to refine their skills," Heights varsity baseball coach Jeff Topping said. "So, hopefully some of those guys can help us somewhere down the road at the JV level and the varsity level.

"When you don't have a C-team any longer, you are not going to able to develop those kids, and you are going to have a tough time building a program and getting more kids involved."

Topping has 40 players in his program. He said that number would drop to about 30 without a C-team.

"That's 396 roster-type spots that we've had before," Faflick said of cutting the teams.

"To take those opportunities and to lose those opportunities, it's really sad. We won't let it define us. We'll try to find other ways for those kids to get involved, whether it's wrestling, cross country, swimming, track and field."

The savings come from transportation costs, game management costs and coaching salaries.

C-level teams would be cut in boys and girls soccer, baseball and softball. Sophomore football — only Heights and Northwest had teams last fall — and sophomore boys basketball teams would be cut. There are no sophomore girls basketball teams.

"At some time they've got to cut some athletics as well," Topping said. "Everybody is hurting. It's not just athletics and teachers.

"The district as a whole is short on funds, and they always told us nothing was safe — no athletic program was safe, no team was safe, no educational program was safe. That's what we are starting to see."

Northwest soccer coach Bobby Bribiesca hopes schools don't lose students because of the sports cuts.

"For a lot of these kids, sports is a reason why they stay in school," Bribiesca said. "They have to maintain a GPA and stay involved.

"There have to be other means to keep the kids active in school. I hope these are short-lived cuts. I hope we can get these teams back."

Adult tickets for high school events will be $6 next year and student tickets $4. Senior citizens will continue to be admitted free.

"We knew to minimize the loss of programs that we'll need to generate additional revenues," Faflick said. "This will. We anticipate that we'll generate over $50,000 in support of our athletic programs."

Keeping freshman teams is important, Faflick said.

"Athletics is a great transition piece for kids from middle school to high school," Faflick said. "It generates connections with a mentor, adult coach, but it supplies friends and teammates that you see outside the school day."

Faflick was unsure whether the cuts will continue past the 2011-12 school year.

"I hope it's short-lived, but the forecast doesn't look good past this year," he said.

Faflick said other possibilities to increase revenue have been considered but won't be put into effect. That includes the pay-to-play cost. Students pay $50 to play sports during a year. Those eligible for free or reduced lunches pay $15 or $25.

Contributing: Chris Elliott of The Eagle

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