Athletic cuts result in delay of Harford campus building
Citing the recent decision to cut men’s soccer and baseball, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot have refused to move forward with Towson’s planned construction of a satellite campus building on the Harford Community College campus.
Franchot spoke out in Wednesday’s state Board of Public Works, Patch reported, saying the state will delay the project until President Maravene Loeschke can explain the decision in full. Franchot told Patch he read did not believe the rationale behind the cuts, calling the decision “bizarre.”
“I think this is a severe black mark on the record of an otherwise exceptional University, and it’s one that, frankly, reflects poorly on the entire University System of Maryland,” Franchot said in a statement from his office.
Loeschke will appear before the Board of Public Works Wednesday, April 3 at 10 a.m. to defend her actions, according to a Facebook post by Len Foxwell, Franchot’s chief of staff. Foxwell posted the announcement on the “Save Towson Baseball” Facebook page, a social media movement run by supporters of the team.
“As most of you know by now, the Comptroller is deeply frustrated and troubled by the decision to eliminate the men’s baseball and soccer programs, and by the manner in which this entire matter has been handled with the coaches, student-athletes, parents and other stakeholders. He has called upon Towson’s leadership to reverse this decision,” Foxwell said in the post.
Loeschke told the Towerlight Wednesday, March 13 there was no chance she would reverse the decision.
University Senate Vice Chair Emmanuel Welsh and Student Government Association President Brandy Hall drafted a letter to O’Malley and Franchot Thursday expressing concerns as to why the decision to cut athletics would interfere with an academic initiative like the Harford building.
“I think it sets a dangerous precedent and frankly, I think it’s irresponsible,” Welsh said in an email. “This academic building will allow Towson to meet the demands for more four-year degrees and graduate degrees in Northeast Maryland. The Governor and the Comptroller are stalwart advocates for access to quality and affordable education, therefore their decision to place a hold on a totally unrelated appropriations request–to use the Comptroller’s word–is ‘bizarre.’”
In the letter, Welsh and Hall adamantly defend Loeschke and her competency as president. Welsh said that he was taken aback by Franchot and O’Malley’s words at Wednesday’s meeting, which Welsh said they based solely on one report from WBAL’s Kieth Mills, who crticized Loeschke’s decision in an online broadcast.
” I was completely dumbfounded by their total reliance on a single commentary by Mr. Mills and the fact that they did not afford Dr. Loeschke the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Loeschke said that she welcomes the opportunity to meet with Franchot and O’Malley.
“There have been several inaccurate reports around this process, and I welcome the opportunity to clarify the details,” Loeschke said in the statement.
Marina Cooper, Loeschke’s deputy chief of staff, said Loeschke has attempted to correct those “inaccuracies” in media reports.
“Based on what I am seeing, it seems there are questions about the process, and not necessarily the decision,” Cooper said in an email.
Loeschke and Director of Athletics Mike Waddell, who in October made the recommendations to the cut the sports, have maintained the cuts are to ensure the fiscal solvency of the athletics department, as well as compliance with Title IX legislation and “the competitiveness” of athletics.
The Harford Community College building was long-term project started under the tenure of former President Robert Caret. Construction was set to begin in the spring and end by fall 2014. Students would be able to take courses in psychology, information technology, sociology, criminal justice, business administration, early childhood education and elementary education.