USOEC Receives Federal Funding


The U.S. Olympic Education Center at NMU will receive nearly $990,000 in support for B.J. Stupak Scholarships and $400,000 in operational funding through the legislative spending package signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush.


"We are very grateful to Congressman Bart Stupak and the entire Michigan delegation for their efforts in support of student athletes at the USOEC," said NMU President Les Wong. "Through this legislation, Northern will continue its work with the center to provide a benefit to the campus, community and Upper Peninsula."


The USOEC is the first and only center in the nation that allows athletes with Olympic aspirations to train for world-class competition while pursuing an education. Jeff Kleinschmidt (USOEC) said the funds will serve the athletic and academic needs of the nearly 100 men and women training at NMU.


"The student athletes will be able to continue their education while training to represent all Americans at the Olympic Games in the sports of boxing, luge, short-track speedskating, men's Greco-Roman wrestling, women's freestyle wrestling and weightlifting," he added. "The athletes and staff sincerely appreciate Congressman Stupak's support."


Northern provides some funding for USOEC operations. The amount dropped substantially through recent campus-wide cost-saving measures in response to cuts in state higher education funding. Northern now contributes $80,000 to the USOEC, which represents the net tuition revenue of center athletes attending the university.


"We are truly grateful for receiving federal support for this local and national resource," said Mary Campbell, chair of the NMU Board of Trustees. "The timing of this support makes it extraordinarily helpful to Northern. The USOEC brings international visibility to the university and the community."

The B.J. Stupak Scholarship program is named in honor of the congressman's late son. It provides federal financial aid to athletes who live and train at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Lake Placid, and Chula Vista, or at the USOEC at Northern. NMU administers the program for all Olympic resident athletes.


Student athletes are eligible for a grant up to the full cost of attendance, not to exceed $20,000 annually. They must attend a post-secondary institution on at least a half-time basis and meet all rules regarding eligibility for financial aid.


Karl Weber, vice chair of the NMU board, said that as a Marquette resident, he can personally attest to the vital role the USOEC plays in the community.


"I had a chance to witness it first hand when the USOEC hosted a World Cup short-track speedskating competition last year," Weber said. "The event generated a great deal of anticipation, excitement and media coverage. It was also a tremendous boost to the local economy. President Wong has done a great job working with our legislative leaders to see this matter through in a challenging budgetary climate."



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Updated: December 17, 2004