FGCU men’s lacrosse team tentatively suspended
The FGCU men’s lacrosse team will not have a 2015 season unless it pays off its $16,000 of debt. The team is ineligible for any and all activity after cradling itself into debt for personalized gear and travel expenses.
“We were made aware, after the men’s lacrosse team came back from nationals, that they had some outstanding debts,” said Amy Swingle, director of Campus Recreation. “I was getting emails from other departments across campus with invoices saying, ‘Amy, please pay these people.’ It was a little bit embarrassing because we didn’t know what it was for. Then, we found out it was men’s lacrosse.”
The invoices were for multiple bus companies and costs of new uniforms and gear for the entire team. When the original gear invoice came in, Swingle said only $2,000 of that tab had been picked up by FGCU. The rest was just “swagger,” as Swingle put it.
The unpaid invoices were billed in the name of the volunteer coaches, who are not allowed to buy things on the club’s budget. The budget is supplied by Student Government, so transactions such as these break the finance code.
The money, allocated to the team by SG to pay for uniforms, equipment and travel costs, was spent elsewhere. Club President Jacob Johnson said the team was offered a bid to the national tournament in California during the spring and had a week and a half to decide if it would be attending.
“A lot of players could not afford it,” Johnson said. “We used the money we were going to spend on the invoices for the players that could not afford it, knowing those players were going to repay it.”
Swingle said the team was allocated a total of $18,432.90 for the 2014-15 fiscal year by SG, along with whatever was in their off-campus account. Each club team manages its on-campus account with the funding provided to it by SG, along with a personal account off campus that is managed by the club. Any club team looking to spend its provided on-campus funding must fill out a spending request form before doing so.
The team’s finances are managed by a team treasurer. The treasurer for the 2014-15 year has graduated and will not be facing any of the sanctions imposed on the rest of the team.
“We’ve paid almost $9,000 toward our debt, and that’s only three weeks into school,” Johnson said. Johnson said the money is coming from players repaying the money that was loaned to them for their California appearance.
Swingle said the team, to date, has paid maybe half of its debt. Once the team pays off its debt, the club can continue regular operation. If the team does not pay off its debt by the December deadline, the club will cease to exist.
“We experienced a few bumps in the road and did not manage our account as well as we would have liked,” said Johnson.
The team hosted a meeting last week for returning members with the permission of Campus Recreation, but is otherwise unable to meet. Allegations that the team has been secretly practicing were denied by both Swingle and Johnson.
Until the debt is officially paid off, the team will continue to be suspended. No practices or meetings will be held until the suspension is lifted.