Men’s baseball, soccer face elimination
This season may be the last for Towson’s NCAA Division I men’s soccer and baseball teams.
In a release sent from the President’s office, University President Maravene Loeschke stated that after auditing the Athletics Department, Director of Athletics Mike Waddell recommended the elimination of the two programs, as well as the reinstatement of men’s tennis and roster expansion for select women’s teams.
“I respect the thought and care Mr. Waddell and his team put into this recommendation and its alignment with the athletic challenges that institutions of higher education across the nation continue to face,” the release reads.
Director of Athletics Mike Waddell said that he recently spoke with coaches and players. It was the first time the student athletes and coaches had officially heard that there was a chance their teams would be cut.
“We thought it was very important to meet with the student athletes immediately after meeting with the coaches and do it first thing of the day because it was important to me that they heard this news directly from the mouth of the first party,” he said. “The way they reacted was about how I had would expect them to react. If I was 18-22 years old and was told what they were told today, I would be upset, I’d be hurt, I’d be frustrated and I’d be looking for definitive answers.”
The release said that these changes are being considered to maintain the athletic department’s financial solvency and the ratio of female-to-male athletes, which complies with Title IX.
“I would say that our process was geared around the three major pushes for our department,” Waddell said. “We need to be more overall competitive across the board. We need to have a strong financial game plan, not only for now, but for the long term. But if you’re going to have a viable strategic plan, you need to be stable financially, and we also need to be in compliance with federal law in ways that are sound with the first two components which is being competitive and also financially stable.”
An executive summary on the Athletic Task Force website states that the elimination of two men’s teams would shift major funding to women’s programs. Athletics would also increase the coaching staff of women’s cross country/track and field, as well as swimming and diving.
The summary states that the net savings from the program cuts would be an estimated $800,083 by the 2018 fiscal year.
The complete budget for men’s baseball and soccer, including salaries, operations and scholarships totals almost $900,000. A men’s tennis program would only cost the department around $100,000, after a transition period of up to four years.
Waddell does not project any increase in student athletic fees.
“The athletics budget, and President Loeschke and I agree, where our budget is right now, we need to see additional resources and the best way for us to generate those resources will be to do it through corporate sales, through fundraising and ticket sales,” he said. “At the present time, there is no way that athletics can get additional funding from student fees and that we need to be more reliant on those three areas of corporate sales and raising money through donations and work with our development office and also through the ticket sales.”
David Nevins, chairman of the Towson University board of visitors, will head a task force to further examine this recommendation, as well as ask for feedback from Towson students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Loeschke will be announce her final decision in mid-November.
This announcement comes hot off the heels of Towson’s football match vs. LSU, in which the athletics department received $510,000.
The Towerlight will update this story as more information becomes available.