Fuel costs limit athletics travel

The price of oil and travel is not just a political issue anymore. Just ask Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz.

Rising gas prices are hitting close to home for Americans hitting the road, but also for any organization whose members routinely travel – like a sports team.

With an athletic budget that can’t compare to major athletics schools, Kvancz said the GW athletics department is starting to consider the more stringent economic times by finding games closer to home – and he expects more schools will do the same in the near future.

“I think all travel is going to cost you a significant amount of money than it has in the past,” Kvancz said. “Whether you fly or you take a bus, the price of gas hurts. People are all excited about how gas is $3.85 instead of four dollars. It’s still $3.85.”

Kvancz said the department has tried to keep schedules as local as possible for a number of reasons, but mostly because of high travel costs.

“We’ve tried for years to play as many local teams as possible,” he said. “That’s been a product of a lot of things, but in this particular case, the economics of the situation make that even more appealing.”

For the GW men’s basketball team, that is easier said than done. Kvancz often cites other programs’ unwillingness to come to the Smith Center, and this year the Colonials play only five out-of-conference games in the District. Away games include trips to Boston, Alabama, California and Hawaii.

With multiple destinations requiring airplane travel on the docket, GW runs into another problem with increased travel – luggage costs. Many larger airlines have begun charge for a first checked bag and even upwards of $100 for a third checked bag. A basketball team travels with training supplies, filming equipment and other necessities in addition to players’ and coaches’ personal effects, so that price tag can become very high.

In other sports, however, the University has been more successful in securing close-to-home match-ups. While the men’s soccer team plays only five home games this fall, nearly every away game is in the mid-Atlantic or lower New England. Women’s soccer boasts a heavily local schedule as well.

“We’ve been very lucky to play an awful lot of local schools in other sports,” Kvancz said.

Higher travel costs also mean more fundamental changes when it comes to guarantee games, Kvancz said. A guarantee game is a match-up where the host school pays the visiting school an amount of money to come play them. With the economic scenario changing, schools across the country might have to increase their guaranteed money offer in order to offset the visitor’s travel costs.

“Maybe you get a good deal and you break even. But had they been last year’s prices, maybe you make money. But maybe it wouldn’t be as big of a guarantee.” Kvancz said. “Those are the types of things I think people are going to be looking at.”

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