Dec. 4, 2003
KALAMAZOO--A two-month review of intercollegiate athletics at Western Michigan University has led to a recommendation that the WMU Board of Trustees should approve elimination of four varsity sports at the close of the 2003-04 fiscal year.
WMU President Judith I. Bailey will bring the formal recommendation to the board when it meets Dec. 12. The sports include one of the University's oldest athletic offerings, men's outdoor track, as well as men's indoor track, men's cross country and a relatively new addition to the lineup, synchronized skating. The four sports represent a total of 100 student-athletes and three coaches. Eliminating the four sports will result in an annual savings of more than $535,000, beginning with the 2004-05 fiscal year.
Annual scholarship commitments to athletes in the affected sports will be honored for the duration of each athlete's academic career at WMU. The scholarship funding, which this year amounts to $165,000, will come from the president's unrestricted fund beginning in 2004-05.
"This was an incredibly painful decision," said Bailey at a Dec. 4 news conference to announce the recommendation. "We know that eliminating any sport diminishes our ability to offer a well-rounded college experience. But we must protect our core academic mission, and doing that in this budget climate means making difficult decisions and reassessing how we use our resources."
A Sports Sponsorship Review Committee was created by Bailey Sept. 24 and charged with a review of current athletics programming. Specifically, the committee was asked to evaluate current programming needs to ensure the division is prudent and fiscally responsive to the current economic environment facing the University and community. The review was launched after WMU suffered a $12.5 million cut in its state appropriation at the beginning of the 2003-04 academic year. An impending executive order cut by Gov. Granholm was announced just as the committee was concluding its work. That new cut could mean an additional reduction in funds of more than $6 million for the University, with the possibility of even more base budget cuts in 2004-05.
Bailey instructed the committee that their recommendations should be made with strong consideration given to support of student-athletes' academic performance and the continuance of a safe and competitive athletic environment. Parameters included keeping WMU a Division 1-A member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, maintaining its Title IX compliance and remaining an active member of both the Mid-American Conference and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
The committee, led by Dr. Lewis Walker, WMU professor emeritus of sociology, and Charles Elliott of Kalamazoo, met its Dec. 1 deadline and recommended elimination of the men's track and cross country programs to Kathy Beauregard, director of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Facing deeper budget cuts than were known at the time the committee was formed, Beauregard added an additional recommendation to eliminate synchronized skating before she made her formal presentation to Bailey.
"Every alternative was considered," said Beauregard. "But with the cuts the division has already sustained and those coming in the future, I had to agree with the committee's recommendation and even take it a step further. I literally ache for each individual who is losing his or her opportunity to pursue a dream. These are members of our campus family, and I know they exemplify the very best of what collegiate athletics is all about."
The review committee consisted of WMU faculty, staff members and alumni as well as community members. It made its recommendation to cut the men's track programs "with the deepest regret," said Walker.
During the course of its review, committee members met a total of 13 times, consulted with members of the athletic department staff, reviewed written statements of support from the community and interviewed coaches of all sports that are not required for MAC membership. They also held two public forums to get input from student-athletes, students and community supporters.
"As a committee, we had hoped to discover alternatives to team elimination," Walker said. "Unfortunately, the economic challenge did not allow for any other viable options. It was a most difficult decision for each member of the committee and we deeply regret that the decision had to be made."
Bailey thanked members of the committee for the difficult decisions they made. She said both she and WMU trustees, who already know of the recommendations, appreciate the care and dedication committee members brought to the task.
"We've made the decision to protect academic programs and student aid during these tough budget times, because students are our top priority," Bailey said. "But staying the course through this decision means some students will be hurt and will lose something vital to them. As an educator and someone who cares deeply about young people, my heart goes out to each of them and to the coaches who have served them so selflessly."
The men's indoor and outdoor track and cross country programs officially count as three varsity programs, although they share a common coaching staff and several athletes participate on multiple teams. The programs' 88-year history has produced 32 MAC team championships and two NCAA cross country team championships. For the 2003-04 year, $370,722 has been budgeted for the three track teams.
Synchronized skating was launched at WMU in 1998, and in 1999, it became one of only two varsity collegiate teams in the nation. All athletes are walk-ons and no athletic scholarships are in place for the sport. For 2003-04, the budget for the sport is $164,350.
Dec. 4, 2003
The core of the problem at WMU was creating synchronized skating to begin with. Especially with a budget of $164,350!!! At UTPA, our Men's/Women's Cross Country and Track & Field programs operate on much less when I was there. $165,000 for synchronized skating?
Read deeper into the problem: The three track team's (XC, Outdoor, and Indoors) budget was a combined $370,722, or only double that of synchronized skating (one sport) compared to three sports!
Anyone have any insight on who convinced the Athletic Board to approve syncronized skating if it was only going to be one of two teams in the nation? Now all those track/cross men and women have to suffer because with incidental costs not budgeted for, the lack of a synchronized skating team over the last 5 years could have saved Athletics at WMU. A sad day again.
when will enough be enough? how many of our programs are going to be cut before something gets done? $165-grand for synch swimming?!?
why don't we just tell all the high school runners that they might as well stick to the big three... that or get a sex-change... those are the only sports that matter, right? track doesn't pull in any money, so it's obviously not worthy of association to the collegiate system.
i'm writing to western mich. and blasting them over this! i suggest you do too.
88 years of history and then, "thanks for all your efforts, but we just couldn't keep you on board. i know we only gave you a third of the coaching staff, a quarter of the scholarships, and not quite a tenth of the overall budget as football, and you still managed some measure of success, but... you know how it goes."
Local club teams will be the only way to go ... I feel sorry for these guys. I graduated from the Univ of South Alabama, which will soon be getting a new football team in ~2005. Quite a few of the guys on the old JaguarTrack.com website were excited by the prospects of a football team. I made a post titled "Hasta la vista XC/Track" and it was quickly deleted.
Oh Joy! You know who's to blame for this: those goddamn princessy cunts who eat muff and then whine, "It isn't fair! Feminism! Title Nine!" They, along with their gay, liberal politicians, should be shot.
It's ok though I guess those girls that never did athletic in highschool do deserve scholerships eventhough they did nothing to earn them. (that was extemely sarcastic by the way) around here we just call them "niners" teh girls that can come out for division I cross country as a means of staying in shape. The girls that can't be cut eventhough they show up to practice any time they feel like it.
that is such bullshit. you cannot tell me that there are runners at a D1 school that didn't run in highschool. you lose your fight when you site such bullshit - you sound like crybabies.
We had women on our XC and track teams from other sports(basketball, volleyball and tennis). Additionally, our AD ran advertisements in the school newspaper for the sole purpose of doling out scholarships to females so that we had the "appropriate number" of female athletes at the university. Some women from other sports who were maxed out on scholarships, etc would get extra "meal money"; would travel to meets; enter track events, and would intentionally false start, not make opening height etc. etc.
There actually is some truth to that. He is exaggerating quite a lot, but there is the little truth in his statement. There are certain teams that cannot cut girls from the team without risking problems from Title IX. THESE GIRLS ARE NOT GETTING MONEY, so personally I have no problem with having them run. But what is a shame is when dedicated guy walk-ons are cut to meet Title IX Quotas.
Title IX is an vastly complicated issue. I personally believe that it has some great intentions, but could be edited somewhat to make it a little more fair. There should be more done as far as getting younger girls interested in more sports early on, instead of just throwing money at the issue at the collegiate level. Playing the blame game, and cursing from both sides isn't going to help anything.
I have yet to see this, but do not doubt that it could be happening. It's intentions are good, but it just needs to be implemented differently. I think women are doing just fine right now, working to become competitive with men. Some of the handicaps given to them should start being pulled back a little. Including lower application standards, and the like.
I have one possible solution to the problem with athletic scholarships and budgets. Make the number of scholarships and operating budget available proportional to the number of athletes at the high school level competing for their prospective sports. First of all this would help make it fair as far as the amount of money given out at the collegiate level. Secondly it would give an incentive to collegiate athletes and coaches to go out and recruit athletes to participate in their prospective sports in order to increase their operating budgets. And this would in turn cause an increase in the number of females participating in sports overall. It might be necessary to provide some sort of cap on men's money in order to keep the budget from getting out of hand, but it would still be far more fair than the current system.
This is all just a thought, so keep the cursing to a minimum. If you have a thought on the issue, try and share it without resorting to the typical shouting match. If you have any logical fallicies or factual problems of mine that you would like to point out, then by all means share them.
It is yet another sad day for the track and field world. I think somewhere along the way, college administrators and our policital system have lost all sense of rational thinking. I spent 5 years at a school that had "recreational joggers" on their rosters, allowed them to use the athletic department academic services and were given shoes (in some cases) as long as they keep their grades up. It allowed the school to meet the needed numbers for the roster. This does certainly happen at some places........but maybe not as much as many would think.
At that same school, we had 18 full scholarships for women's track, and I can tell you that many years we could not GIVE it away. We typically would have 1.5-2+ scholarships left because we didn't want to just give to someone that had NO-chance at being competitive in our conference, much less at any other level. How many university athletic programs have unused athletic scholarhip money that is never used? I don't know that, but when I was at the Southeast Regional Cross country meet coaches meeting, they talked (only briefly) about a proposal to be presented (again) trying to get additional scholarships for women's cross. When I hear stuff like that.......it upsets me.
There other thing that disturbs me about all this, is that those who are making these decisions don't care about athletics because they have never participated in them at any level other than weekend warrior status. It only proves that they don't understand the importance athletics plays in developing the leaders of tomorrow. All the lessons that learned in the playing arena......not in a book or on the internet.
I agree with you all.............A SAD SAD DAY FOR COLLEGE ATHLETICS, AND THE ELIMINATION OF A FINE COACHING STAFF, AND YOUNG MEN.
When the MAC conference is whittled down to three Track & Field teams (EMU, CMU and Kent)as it appears to be heading, will the conference individual champions still get the automatic bid to regionals?
When does a conference cease to be a conference?
I think it's a MAC rule that you must have at least 5 schools to be considered a championship sport. If they get rid of 2 more schools, the indoor meet will cease to exist. Why would any recruits go to any of these schools now?
I think the number is 6.
I'm going to quit reading threads on schools cutting cross and track. Too depressing and little to hang a hat on in terms of an across-the-board solution.
"There other thing that disturbs me about all this, is that those who are making these decisions don't care about athletics because they have never participated in them at any level other than weekend warrior status."
Believe it or not, our AD, who cut Men's Cross Country/
Track & Field, said that he ran Cross Country in H.S. and loved the sport. Yet he still cut it. That alone just proves that it is all about politics and finding a way to provide that much needed revenue for everyone's favorite sport - Football (which is a total joke in our Conference).
No serious problem is ever going to have an across-the-board easy solution.
It's best not to ignore these problems also. Some things are worth fighting for.
Now all those track/cross men and women have to suffer...
I thought they were just cutting the Mens Track and XC programs?
Unfortunately this "bullshit" that I state is the honest truth at my school. As of now we have 7 girls who never ran cross country in highschool on our team. Our school recently posted flyers all over campus recruiting girls for the crew team reading "no previous athletic expereince needed" and "scholerships available". Does this seem fiar to you 16x? Maybe I am going a little over board I admit but what I'm saying isn't "bullshit" it's actually happening in a lot of school around the country. Now do I think that girls shouldn't get to do D1 sports? no not at all but I'm saying that it is a joke to call it "gender equity".