Give, Then Give Some More

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, Billiken student-athlete emails pinged with a message. The subject line read “Parking During Men’s Basketball Games.” The body of the email stated that athletes who park in the St. Peter’s parking lot around the Grand Forest Apartments and Marchetti Towers are now expected to move their cars by 8 a.m. on SLU Men’s Basketball game days. Those who do not adhere to this expectation risk their car being towed in retaliation. 

Athletes are expected to move their car to Olive-Compton Garage in order to make space for the men’s basketball donors as they should have the closest spaces to Chaifetz Arena. This new expectation is a response to the ongoing construction of the O’Laughlin Family Champions Center. According to the email, the construction takes up critical parking spaces in which donors previously parked. In order to remedy the parking shortage, student-athletes are expected to make up for the loss, even in their residential space. 

Many athletes live in Grand Forest Apartments, which includes the men’s basketball athletes. Despite never having been asked, nor having agreed to this now mandatory obligation, athletes must move their cars, despite the inconvenience. The NCAA has bylaws which prevent student-athletes from receiving any extra benefits that are not available to the rest of a student body. The intention behind the law is to help ensure equity, and it is part of the reason that last year’s name, image, likeness (NIL) passing was so controversial. Interestingly, however, this mandate for student-athletes does not include non-athletes at SLU. Regular students will still be allowed to park in St. Peter’s without interruption. 

According to Chris May, “We are asking our student-athletes to do what we do best: to be great teammates in service to the needs of our athletic program and University.” The intention of the O’Laughlin Family Champion’s Center is to serve all student-athletes at SLU, which is why the expectation extends to all student-athletes despite the mandate being enforced only on game days for men’s basketball. 

While towing is the immediate and stated threat, there are certainly questions left unanswered by the email. Rest assured, however, because Athletic Director, Chris May, will be attending team lifts or meetings in order to field any questions or concerns athletes might have about this new expectation. Student athletes who might be suspicious of this mandate were told, “Your coaches and staff are also aware of the issue and supportive of the process”, leaving little welcome room for skepticism. 

Athletes will be expected to move their personal vehicles beginning on Oct. 24, 2022. A new concrete walkway has been added to extend the Grand Forest walkway from St. Peter’s lot directly into Chaifetz’s Weber lot. Despite student-athletes being charged the same amount to park in St. Peter’s as other students, they are the only individuals that this decision affects. Many athletes will never benefit from the money and donors that men’s basketball has; and yet, they have been asked to make sacrifices under the guise of the Champion’s Center construction. Even Mr. May stated that the only individuals benefiting from athletes moving their cars are men’s basketball VIP donors. 

As previously mentioned, student-athletes who refuse to comply risk having their vehicles towed. In order to know whether or not a vehicle belongs to a student-athlete, SLU parking will have to run the plate and parking pass and only select the cars under a student-athlete’s registration to be towed. As winter sports like swimming and women’s basketball begin to travel, the assumption is likely that students will be expected to move their vehicle even earlier in order to comply with the mandate. Additionally, athletes are expected to comply with this request because, “The restrictions on the St. Peter’s lot are only for men’s basketball home game days.” This condition limits the number of days student athletes are expected to move their cars rather than requiring them to move their cars for both women and men’s basketball games.

Finally, despite the email being signed by Chris May, the email itself came from an administrative assistant. This is likely the case because it prevents immediate outcry and concern in hastey response to the email. Chris May is inarguably a very busy man, and frustrated emails from athletes would likely only clutter his inbox and prevent important administrative and logistical work. 

Outcries of frustration from student-athletes was swift, yet expected, which is why Mr. May intends to visit each team to comfort them and assure them that moving their car is the best decision. For student-athletes who have watched basketball players be driven around on team golf carts and shouldered out of space in Chaifetz, this expectation comes as a blow. While Olive Compton has not been a site of vehicular theft  this year, the increased frequency of theft on campus could be a concern for those students driving Kias and Hundais. Should an individual’s car be towed, they will be expected to pay the fee in order to have their car returned to them.  Of course, the irony here  lies in the fact that basketball is the only sport on campus that allows for an athlete’s full tuition and fees to be covered. Therefore, the parking for which student-athletes willingly pay is being limited for a sport that is not their own. 

Come Oct. 24, 2022, it will be clear whether or not this mandate is met with the same resistance it caused upon its first announcement. Admittedly, initial announcements often cause greater outcry than the new expectations in practice. It will be interesting to see how student-athletes choose to respond to this new set of expectations.