Chapman has 421 student athletes competing in 19 different sports. The institution spent a combined $216,233 on the installation of Wilson Field and the Allred Aquatics Center and stadium. This was Chapman’s most expensive project between 2003 and 2014, beside the Lastinger parking garage.
Just as the university allocates funds to keep their athletics up to par, their student-athletes also receive special benefits.
As a Division III school, Chapman is not allowed to award athletic scholarships. However, with loopholes such as federal work-study and free medical care, athletes receive benefits that aren’t available to other students. Additionally, athletes get first pick at classes during enrollment periods, but they seem to disagree on how big of an advantage they get.
“We get to sign up for classes a day earlier than everyone else,” said Omeed Farhadi, a sophomore business major and men’s lacrosse player.
Former soccer player and sophomore psychology major Sophie Hinz says differently.
“I want to say that we get at least a couple days to a week to register before the rest of the student body,” Hinz said. “That’s what I think the biggest privilege is.”
This perk has been around for years, as 2012 alumnus Matthew Bernhardt, who played on the men’s soccer team, recalls the same experience.
“The biggest privilege was being able to register early,” Bernhardt said. “I was always able to get the classes I wanted and needed. This gave me an advantage above other kids in my major.”
However, students not involved in sports, like freshman business major Victoria Landry, believe this privilege is an injustice.
“It’s unfair that just because someone plays a sport, they can secure a class ahead of me,” Landry said. “I don’t want all of my classes getting swooped up before I even have the chance to be placed on the waitlist, at best.”
Although students are frustrated, there is a valid reason for this policy, according to Sports Information Director Steven Olveda.
“They need that first pick so that they can coordinate practice times with their classes,” Olveda said. “That way, they don’t have to miss any class time for practice.”
Even more resentment stems from the notion that athletes who qualify for work-study are guaranteed on-campus jobs, which are often too competitive for other students to get.
“We were told that if you have work-study, to contact Coach [Augustino] Adams and he’ll find us a job,” said Erika Ebe, junior health science major and former softball player. “If you’re an athlete, you can just get a job within athletics. You can be security at a game or a water girl.”
Augustino Adams declined to comment.
Another common job for student-athletes is doing laundry, says Director of Athletics Terry Boesel.
“We hire students to do the team laundry, clean all of the equipment, have it ready for practice the next day, stuff like that,” Boesel said.
Bernhardt utilized work-study during his time at Chapman and admits that it was more of a luxury than a real job.
“The work-study jobs for the athletes were pretty cushy, “ Bernhardt said. “I got paid to put the laundry in and paid for the time that the laundry was running. I also just sat at football games to make sure people didn’t sneak in.”
In the event that an accident happens on the field, Chapman’s insurance and athletic trainers cover all minor injuries, according to Ebe.
“I had pain in my hip and I needed imaging done,” Ebe said. “It was a preexisting injury that I had, but Chapman took care of it. I don’t remember paying anything out of pocket.”
Ebe also said the athletic trainers are always on hand to help connect athletes with doctors if the injury is beyond their scope of practice, such as a torn ACL.
Boesel offered clarification on this.
“Regular students do not have access to our personal training room and our trainers,” Boesel said. “It’s called secondary insurance. If an athlete needs to go to a doctor, their primary insurance will cover most of the bill, and Chapman will pick up the remainder.”
He further explained that if an athlete had a doctor’s fee of $500, their personal primary insurance would cover $400 of it. Then, Chapman would front the final $100. He also confirmed that minor injuries, like a sprain or pulled muscle, are all handled through Chapman’s trainers. This service is free of charge for the athletes.
Not only is there dissent between athletes and other students, but there is some angst between sports teams as well. The football team is the largest on campus, with 87 players this past season, and receives the most benefits as well. While commuter meal plans cost between $130 to $1,066, football players who live off-campus get to eat in the dining hall free of charge.
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“They get caf meals before games and the boys don’t pay for that,” Ebe said. “The football program pays for that.”
This benefit, however, is not favoritism from the athletic department like some believe.
“I get that question from teams all the time: ‘Why does that team get this and we don’t?’” Boesel said. “It’s up to the coach for that money. If the coach decides to use the fundraised money for cafeteria meals, then the team eats. But that’s fundraised money.”
Still, students like Emma Schebesta, freshman strategic communications major, are frustrated that they pay considerably more for the same daily meals.
“I paid close to $3,000 for my meal plan,” Schebesta said. “It’s unfair that they get free food because they belong to a team.”
Although some believe Chapman prioritizes its athletes, Olveda argues against that.
“We’re Division III, academics is the focus,” Olveda said. “Have you been to a game? The stands are rarely full. We don’t bring in that much revenue.”
Division I athletes have more benefits than Division III. Division I schools enroll the most students of the three divisions, have the biggest athletics budget and can offer many more scholarships than the other divisions, according to USA Football.
Chapman brings in around $2 million each year from athletics, according to College Factual. That’s a low figure compared to Division I private schools like the University of Southern California, whose revenue totaled $116.9 million in 2017. Regardless of the assets they provide to the school, Bernhardt feels athletes should still be treated as regular students.
“I don’t think athletes should get additional privileges,” Bernhardt said. “Part of the challenge of being a student-athlete is balancing the student and the athlete.”