It’s a good thing championships don’t depend solely on equipment budgets, or the Boise State women’s basketball team would be on the outside looking in.
The Broncos swept the Mountain West Conference’s regular-season and tournament championships last season despite ranking second to last among the league’s 11 teams with an equipment budget of $29,500.
The average women’s basketball equipment budget in the Mountain West is $60,000, according to numbers provided by Boise State.
Working with smaller budgets than their competitors, four Boise State women’s sports teams won conference titles in 2017-18.
With better funding, what would the future of Boise State women’s sports look like?
The Bronco Athletic Association’s newly formed Women’s Sports Fund aims to find out.
“I think all our women’s programs here at Boise State are right on the cusp of really doing something really special, and we’re winning championships,” Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell said. “Soccer’s won a championship. Volleyball’s won a championship. We’ve won a championship, gymnastics.
“Hopefully by enhancing those programs just a little bit, maybe we can take a next step on the national stage and really make an impact for Boise State.”
The WSF’s goal is to raise $100,000 each year. That money would go toward areas of most need within the women’s programs.
“We’re in the bottom half in a lot of things in the Mountain West,” said Ben Price, director of development for the BAA. “That’s the big myth that we want to dispel is that Boise State athletics has all this money. While football does great, it’s not doing enough to pay for every other sport like people think it does. We need to do some things to help these women out.”
In addition to winning, Price says Boise State women’s programs log more community service hours and have a higher average GPA than their male counterparts. But there are often fewer fans in the stands to help fuel their endeavors.
Teresa Apsey, the wife of Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey, was the first to float the idea of a women’s sports fund this fall.
“All the women’s sports teams are just rocking it, and they don’t get the support like the men’s teams do,” Teresa Apsey said. “That’s just the nature of the world. So I’m like, ‘What can we do?’ That’s kind of the brain child for this.”
After an initial meeting with select BAA members and potential donors in October, Boise State officials gave the WSF the green light.
The fund was formally introduced at a get-together of athletes, Boise State officials, fans and BAA members before last Friday’s Boise State women’s basketball game against Eastern Washington.
“It’s actually really amazing,” Boise State gymnast Shani Remme said. “I didn’t know there were this many people who were just such big supporters. It’s really cool to kind of mingle with everyone and get to know some of the people who cheer us on.”
Last season, Remme and the Broncos beat Washington and Iowa State, two teams with significantly higher budgets for recruiting and student aid compared to Boise State. Iowa State’s gymnastics recruiting budget is $52,789, Washington’s is $28,749 and the Broncos’ is just $19,330.
And those aren’t the only disparities Boise State women’s teams have overcome. Swimming and diving won back-to-back conference titles in 2017 and 2018 with an overall budget of $843,000. The average budget in the Mountain West is $879,000.
“We just want to make more people in the community aware that there are women’s student-athletes here and they are amazing,” Teresa Apsey said. “They need some love. They need some support. The whole Women’s Sports Fund, it’s not just financial. It’s trying to get more people to attend their games and just getting to know them and finding out how amazing they are.
“These women are great role models for younger kids.”
Boise State men host Alabama State
The two men’s basketball programs meet for the first time at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena. But it is the second game of the season for the Broncos against a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Boise State beat Jackson State 70-53 on Nov. 16.
The Broncos (3-5) ended a three-game skid with a victory over NCAA Division II Central Washington on Saturday, and can win back-to-back games for the first time this season if they top the Hornets (2-4).
“We’re not perfect right now by any means,” Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice said. “We’re not even a great basketball team yet, but we’re on our way to that.”