The department confronted a tight money situation in September when the Faculty cut the athletic budget by $25,000 from a $2.7-million appropriation. Watson said department guidelines exist that determine how much money is distributed to building maintenance, varsity sports and equipment.
As for the discretionary fund, Watson said he considers the age of the sports club, the number of participants and the importance of the clubs' games or meets before giving financial aid.
"Actually, in the over 28 years I've been with the University, the policy has always been to leave the clubs entirely on their own," he said.
Carlo Rizzo '75, former captain and coach of the gymnastics club, said recently that despite references by department heads about "rules" covering club finances, "the department really operates regardless of the rules."
He cited the 1972 resignation of coach Rich DelGallo, who had received a $500 annual salary. Rizzo took over DelGallo's duties and declined the salary to preserve his amateur status.
"After several talks with John Yovicsin (director of Recreation and Club Sport) last spring, it was mentioned, but not promised, that $500 would be spent on equipment in Hemenway gym," Rizzo said.
"Had DelGallo stayed, the department still would have allotted $500 for gymnastics. So Yovicsin gave me the impression there was an understanding and I was hopeful the money would come," he said.
"But the department took advantage of my teaching services; it spent the $500 elsewhere," Rizzo said.
Rizzo resigned as coach in January, largely because dwindling club membership made running the club a "frustrating job," he said.
Freshman Jerry Colker, who recently paid his own way to the Ivy gymnastics championships at Dartmouth, succeeded Rizzo as coach. But he is faced with the same financial problems as his predecessor.
Rizzo said that in one of his last pleas for department assistance, Yovicsin told him financial aid would come if the club showed signs of "outstanding achievement" in intercollegiate competition.
The condition resembled the law of Catch-22. The gymnastics club that needed money to build a strong intercollegiate team would not be given assistance until it demonstrated excellence in competition.
Volleyball club coach Mike Palm last week aired similar complaints about financing and said he hoped the Athletic Department would fund club activities once the club secured a winning record.
The spikers have captured second place in a 16-team East Coast Volleyball League and last week for the first time received $100 from Watson's discretionary fund. Before the gesture, the club members spent $170 for equipment, and operation costs.
John Harvey, coach of the Harvard Classics basketball club, said he knows the department is in "bad straits" but said he worries about making ends meet.