Dan Whalen, an SI summer intern, is the starting quarterback for Division III Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He will blog about life in D-III every week.
Most Division-III schools have the "luxury" of being geographically close to many of their opponents. Usually arranged by location, most conferences are confined to single states, leaving convenient travel options for their teams. That means short bus rides, minimal hotel stays (meaning minimal continental breakfasts) and less time spent staring at the ceiling wondering when your roommate is going to stop snoring. We at Case Western do not have the luxury of proximity on our side. This week, though, we're treking to Hiram, Ohio, and the exception to the rule made me think about long trips. I don't know how those big time athletes do it the way they do.
Our school is one of the more respected academic institutions in the country, which creates a whole slew of instances where we are forced to do things differently. Coaches have a smaller recruiting pool because it takes higher GPA's and higher SAT's to get in. They have to search a little harder for qualified students. So, there's a conference for us and other schools that are as academically challenging. And we as student athletes pay to have the best possible combination of academics and athletics around. Yes, full tuition, room and board at Case Western Reserve University is somewhere in the mid $40,000's. Still, we're having budget issues when it comes to road games.
In the past two years, we have traveled from Cleveland to cities such as: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Columbus and various other cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. There are many overnight stays in fancy hotels (like the William Penn, when we go to play Carnegie Mellon University) as well as cheap respites (like the Mount Vernon, Ohio Holiday Inn Express).
Typically in the past, the cornucopia of cash in the budget allowed us to indulge as a team in "Endless Pasta and Breadsticks" at the local Olive Garden and comfortably sleep two in a room, one in a bed -- a good night's sleep on most accounts. This year, due to shortages in our financial plan, we've had to cram three, even four college football players into a room. Two king-sized bodies into a double bed. Fettucini Alfredo courtesy of the United Bank of Case (i.e. my pre-paid tuition), has turned into a large Donato's pizza with pepperoni and sausage charged to my credit card. Though the school did splurge and allow us a nice Bob Evans breakfast last week before the Ohio Wesleyan game.
I'm not complaining. Things are going too well for us (we're 6-0) for me to be bitter about our traveling accommodations. All I'm wondering is: If we have close to 80 players who pay an average of around $30,000 after grants, scholarships and loans, why are we falling short? Our education is sure worth more than money can buy, but hopefully I don't have to brownbag my dinner when we fly to St. Louis three weeks from this Saturday.