The Florida Gulf Coast University Hockey Club was the first national championship club at FGCU. But at the Student Government Senate meeting Tuesday, the club was denied its funding request for ice time at Germain Arena due to finance code violations. The bill was denied in a 12-18 vote.
The bill requesting $50,000 — decreased from an original $69,374.45 — is not in violation of the finance code, but the club’s tryout fees are. The tryout fees that the club had in place were $50 for returning players and $175 for new player evaluation, and equipment such as jerseys. Members of the hockey club are not required to tryout for the travel team, and other clubs on campus also have tryout fees and member dues.
Coach Bob Brinkworth said that the fee is in place for insurance purposes. “Players can get hurt. It’s a competitive sport. We’ve had women and people just learning how to skate tryout. Players are risking injury to themselves more when they tryout and if they’re put in a game,” Brinkworth said. It is also a test of seriousness and ability for the travel team.
Many senators were not in favor of supporting the bill because of the club’s finance code violations. Sen. Robert Garcia compared the situation to jaywalking.
“While there was no malicious intent, the analogy I wanna use is if an individual jaywalks across the street without knowing that it breaks the law, and they were to be stopped by the police and get a ticket, they still have to pay the ticket,” Garcia said.
Sen. Nathan Joyner didn’t agree with Garcia. “If that cop were talking to a lady that was pregnant with a broken foot, things might be a little different,” Joyner argued. “They’re on the way to another national championship season. I personally would like to see it tabled because I don’t want to see it just die.”
The hockey club is at risk of shutting down now that SG did not pass the bill. Brinkworth is unsure of exactly what their next step will be.
“It’s very disappointing for the school with what we built,” Brinkworth said. “It’s interesting that we have been the sport of choice for Family Weekend for three years, which is coming up soon. But we will not be influenced by the decision and start charging students for attendance. Our attendance is 80 percent students.”
In response to the lack of funding from SG, members of the team have taken matters into their own hands. Colton Bailey, a senior on the D2 team, created a Go Fund Me page for supporters of the hockey team to fundraise the $50,000 themselves in hopes that this won’t be the end of the FGCU Club Hockey Team.