Less than two weeks ago, the field hockey team won its third NCAA championship in four years. It is the only Bowdoin team to have ever won the championship, let alone three, but the one-of-a-kind team operates on a run-of-the-mill budget.

When it comes to spending, high-performance teams like field hockey are subject to the same treatment as any other sport at Bowdoin.

"We are as equitable as one can possibly get when comparing apples and oranges," said Director of Athletics Jeff Ward, in reference to different sports that require different baseline budgets.

But appearances, at times, can be deceiving.

The field hockey team brought its trophy home from Newport News, Va., the site of this year's tournament. Today in the NCAA D-III semifinal, the men's soccer team is facing off against Lynchburg in San Antonio, Texas.

Some assume that the College covers the travel costs of its highest-achieving—and farthest-traveling—teams. However, special expenses that come with success, like travel to far-flung NCAA tournament locales, are entirely paid for by the NCAA itself. The NCAA also organizes all travel details.

"They do a great job," Ward said. Before the recession, "they used to do some things that were actually sort of frivolous in travel...now they make you work a little bit harder."

When Bowdoin foots the bill during the regular season, the athletic department is judicious in its travel spending. Ward cited the virtues of a $20-a-day per-athlete food budget, hotel room cots, and fitting three teams onto two buses.

At first glance, it may seem as though the College gives athletes their team gear, but the department also abides by strict guidelines of what qualifies as appropriate apparel expenses. According to Ward, most of the Bowdoin athletic gear players wear around campus has been purchased out-of-pocket by the students wearing it, and NCAA champions are no exception.

"A lot of teams buy a lot of stuff, and I think that there's often this assumption that the College has somehow bought them that stuff, where that is not the case, or very rarely the case," Ward said. The College "provides a vehicle for students" to purchase team apparel, but is still working out the kinks of the system.

"What I don't want is for somebody to feel like they have to buy something to be part of the team," he said.

Athletic department spending does cover safety equipment, game equipment, such as special game balls, generic practice equipment, some sideline apparel, and game uniforms, which get replaced, on average, every four years.

Though they have managed to cultivate something of a dynasty, field hockey gets no special compensation in terms of recruiting.

NESCAC regulations allow schools to spend no more than $400 per team on recruiting; the total recruiting budget for Bowdoin's 31 teams is $12,400. How that $12,400 is distributed among the teams, however, is up to the athletic department.

Some schools allocate $400 to each team, but to Ward's mind, "that's not reality." Bowdoin distributes a different amount of money to each sport, though it is always consistent across genders.

Ward explained that the method for determining how much to allocate each team is "not a precise science." It depends partially on how many coaches recruit for that team. Travel arrangements for six football coaches will cost more than for one soccer coach. But more important in the determination of funds is the difference in the "nature of recruiting" of each sport.

"If you're the swim coach, you need to look at times; you don't need to go off campus to do talent evaluation," he said.

Football recruiting relies heavily on video footage submitted by applicants, a cheaper alternative to travel. Lacrosse recruiting is done primarily in centralized, efficient camps, which requires coaches to make far fewer trips.

Sports like soccer, basketball and field hockey, however, require coaches to watch a lot of games, and therefore require significantly larger recruiting budgets.

Ward insisted that the department's reallocations are "very equitable given people's individual situations," and underlined the limitations of the NESCAC guidelines.

"The total amount of money is really small...In reality [it] means that coaches spend money out of their own pocket to do this," he said.

For field hockey recruiting, said Ward, no special allowance is given, though he made it clear that, "if [field hockey coach Nicky Pearson] came to me with a need, I would probably try to be very sensitive to that."

In college sports, preferential spending can show up in other places besides basic budget allocation.

Coaches' salaries are, to some degree, based on performance, which implies an indirectly increased allocation of resources for successful teams.

"It's never tied directly to winning...but certainly the people who are consistently successful, that can be rewarded. It's not rewarded extravagantly but...some merit-based is true in most parts of the College," Ward said.