The Wolf Pack athletic department has created a program aimed at improving funding for its female athletes.
The "Alpha Fund" campaign was the brainchild of UNR president Brian Sandoval. Nevada said it has raised nearly $30,000 through 10 donations before Wednesday's official announcement of the program.
“The Alpha Fund is an effort to provide nutrition education and quality food in order to help our women’s Wolf Pack student-athletes reach their peak performance – in training, competition and in the classroom,” Sandoval said in a news release. “The creation of this program provides maximum flexibility for all of our women’s programs that practice and compete throughout the academic year. The goal is to provide a full meal featuring foods and calories that will help our women’s Wolf Pack student-athletes move one step closer to realizing their competitive dreams at the university.”
Prior to the introduction of the the Alpha Fund, nutritional benefits were often limited to post-practice smoothies and handled on a team-by-team level. The initial goal of the program is $100,000 with the annual cost to meet the nutritional needs of women’s athletic programs being around $200,000 annually, according to the Wolf Pack. That would provide one full meal each day for the school's roughly 160 women student-athletes, via both campus dining options or local community restaurant delivery.
A meal distribution plan began earlier this semester with women’s athletes receiving NCAA-allowed incidental meals at breakfast up to three days per week.
“We know that providing more quality calories to our student-athletes is key to reaching their potential in competition and in the classroom, and we are so excited to be able to partner with our donors through the Alpha Fund to provide this additional nutrition to our women’s sports,” Rhonda Lundin Bennett, Nevada’ senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator, said in a news release. “We have been able to start providing breakfast three days a week this semester with some initial gifts and have already seen the impact and benefits that this additional nutrition can have in helping our student-athletes perform at the highest level. We hope that many of our donors will join us in this important initiative and allow us to increase this program to five meals per week in the future for all of our women’s sports.”
Nutrition was one of the top concerns for Wolf Pack athletes, especially female ones, during a recent survey issued by the athletic department to get a better feel for how it could improve athlete experiences. Of those who answered Nevada's survey, 20.5 percent said they were “very dissatisfied” with the nutrition program and 22.3 percent were “somewhat dissatisfied.” Those were the lowest scores of any category sampled.
“The distance team goes into weights every single day and only gets a shake maybe once or twice a week if we are lucky,” one track and field athlete wrote on the survey. “I have a lot of class conflicts and many times I am not supplied that adequate nutrition nor paid attention to when I come in on my own time after I arrange a specific time to come in.”
In 2018, Nevada football started the "Eat to Win" nutrition program that feeds its players regularly. The Wolf Pack typically has one of the lowest budgets in the Mountain West, which has made feeding its players more difficult. The Wolf Pack spent $383,336 annually on athlete meals, according to the latest available figures, with $215,532 being spent on football and $64,130 on men's basketball, the two revenue sports. That's $279,662, or 73 percent of the total, being spent on roughly one-third of the Wolf Pack's athlete population. That's not uncommon as UNLV spent $364,533 on meals, including $322,652 for football and men's basketball (88.5 percent), during the same reporting year.
Those looking to donate to the program can do so at NevadaWolfPack.com/AlphaFund or by contacting senior associate athletics director for development Craig Fink at email@example.com or 775-682-6977.