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State leaders approve deal which may save baseball

5 April 2013 By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Editor-in-Chief 7 Comments
Legislature compromise also includes $2 million grant to renovate softball facilities

State leaders have reached a compromise with Gov. Martin O’Malley that may allow Towson’s baseball program to continue for at least two more seasons.

Towson will receive $300,000 from the University system to allow supporters of the team time to raise money for future seasons, according to a Monday media release from administration. To access the state support, bolsters of the team will need to raise an unspecified amount of money.

The General Assembly approved this deal Monday, April 8.

O’Malley originally proposed Monday, April 1 adding $300,000 to his supplemental budget that would directly benefit Towson’s operating budget. But lawmakers, including Comptroller Peter Franchot, said this would set a “dangerous precedent” by not allowing University athletics to be self-sufficient, and have subsequently developed a deal which would instead distribute those funds to the University System.

Towson administration, including Director of Athletics Mike Waddell and University President Maravene Loeschke, has said the discontinuation of baseball, and the men’s soccer program, was to maintain gender proportionality in athletics required by Title IX legislation and the fiscal future of the athletics department.

Officials in the USM will also distribute one matching $300,000 grant in 2014 to any Division I school struggling with those issues.

Even with the extra funds guaranteed, Towson will not be able to save both programs, and by reinstating baseball, Towson will no longer add a men’s tennis team.

“The discontinuation of men’s soccer will still be necessary for Towson to make progress on Title IX proportionality based on undergraduate enrollment,” Monday’s release reads “Both legislative decisions will go a long way in assisting the institution in providing an affordable, high quality education while enhancing the student experience at Towson University.”

The legislature also approved a $2 million grant to build a new softball stadium.

University counsel Mike Anselmi said in a previous interview with The Towerlight that while Towson has not received any formal complaints over Title IX, over the years administration has heard complaints of the lack of facilities for women, particularly the softball field.

In addition to gender parity, Towson must address a “laundry list” of items for female athletes, which encompasses facilities, scholarships and recruiting budgets.

“There have been complaints over the years of treatment,” Anselmi said during the interview. “Not accommodations, but treatment, specifically our facilities.”

Administration had previously complied with Title IX by adding a women’s sport to the department every few years, which Anselmi said was taxing on financial resources. But a new case recently emerged which said Universities could no longer comply with Title IX by adding women’s sports if they had cut another previously, and Towson cut women’s track in the ‘90s.

“I’m thankful to President Loeschke for her leadership and everyone in the legislature that had anything to do with this new women’s facility,” Towson softball Head Coach Lisa Costello said in the release. “With this stadium, we have the opportunity to be more competitive in the CAA and address a real gap in facilities that widened over the years.”

The decision to cut sports did not reach the ears of Annapolis until Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday, March 20, when Franchot and O’Malley spoke publicly against Loeschke’s handling of the cuts.

Franchot in particular demanded that Loeschke appear before the Board of Public works to explain her decision. Despite finalizing this deal, Loeschke is still scheduled to speak to the board April 17. O’Malley recently said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun that all his questions about the decision to cut sports were answered.

 Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story did not state that the baseball program would need to raise additional funds to access the initial $300,000 in state support. The Towerlight apologizes for this error.


7 Comments »

  • jojo said:

    Bye Bye Grandma Latchkey!!! She will be forced to step down for the good of Towson!!!

  • Common Sense said:

    Are you kidding?

    I certainly would like the baseball team to thrive, but that doesn’t mean throw an immense amount of money at it. Hold the people responsible accountable.

    I felt like $600,000 was a bit much, but I accepted it. Now $2,000,000 is being put in for a new softball field? And what if it isn’t self-sufficient? Then Towson will have a new partially useless softball field, and the state will be in the hole $2,300,000 ($300,000+$2,000,000; as the USM is contributing the other $300,000), for a field bringing in no revenue.

  • Non Sense said:

    Self sufficient? Baseball nor Softball even charge admission for games. All non sense. They should have just cut these teams like was planned as that would have saved taxpayers $2,600,000

  • these arguments are stupid... said:

    These expenditures would not have been made had Waddell not been given authorization (or made the unauthorized) spend down of over $2,000,000 in an emergency fund for athletics. That does not include spending down a $450,000 surplus in the department before his arrival.

    The greatest problem was that Mike Waddell rationalized increased spending by citing future revenue increases. These increases have never come to fruition. The cronies under the Caret and Loeschke that approved his hire and allowed Waddell to dismantle the athletic department share the blame by being ineffective in their oversight.

    If Waddell wasn’t an absolute idiot and spent money responsibly, specifically:
    -Not hiring redundant positions in student-support
    -Not paying out buyouts and salary increases for all of the staff turnover on his watch
    -Not spending money on a new basketball court and then putting a new one in the new arena
    -Not spending money on a football turf surface that could have been installed for free
    -Asking a “donor” to donate money to programs instead of a tiger statue
    -Using upfront payments from sponsorship to help support future spending rather than buying iPads
    -Not spending money on renting portable speakers for football games
    -Not trading gifts in kind for actual donations from donors

    You could probably find the money to upgrade facilities accordingly, without the aid of tax payers.

    Also, stop these lies about Title IX. There are no Title IX issues under any interpretation of the law. The NCAA has studied Towson athletics on a number of occasions, as have Towson’s peers at the conference level. There has never even been a whimper of non-compliance.

    Get rid of the people that started all of this mess. Fire the president’s and AD’s cronies. Fire the people that stood around and rubber stamped the idiotic spending. When you do that maybe it will start to work itself out, maybe.

  • Facts said:

    These expenditures would not have been made had Waddell not been given authorization (or made the unauthorized) spend down of over $2,000,000 in an emergency fund for athletics. That does not include spending down a $450,000 surplus in the department before his arrival.
    >>> The Athletics Department was authorized to utilize its own fund balance to address critical need issues in athletics, including but not limited to coaching positions, sports medicine, strength & conditioning, academic services and development. Athletics was told to use these monies over the FY12, FY13 and FY14.

    The greatest problem was that Mike Waddell rationalized increased spending by citing future revenue increases. These increases have never come to fruition. The cronies under the Caret and Loeschke that approved his hire and allowed Waddell to dismantle the athletic department share the blame by being ineffective in their oversight.
    >>> Athletics Fundraising, Ticket Sales, and Corporate Sponsorships have all gone up over the last two years. For these areas to reach their potential teams which have games that sell tickets and drive crowds must be winning, consistently. Towson Football has had winning seasons in 2011 and 2012, while the prior two seasons the team went 3-21. Towson Men’s Basketball had its first winning season in 17 years this past winter, 2012-13. Towson sells tickets to Football, M&W Basketball, Gymnastics, and M&W Lacrosse. The investments into sports medicine, strength & conditioning, academic services and development help all sports across the board.

    -Not hiring redundant positions in student-support.
    >>> The only addition in student support has been two new positions in Academic Support and the Director of the Total Tiger Program. During the 2012-13 academic year the TOTAL TIGER PROGRAM has logged more than 100 hours of individual mentoring for the student-athletes in a number of areas such as decision making, counseling (drug/ alcohol), discipline, among other subjects. So far this year Tiger student-athletes, coaches, and administrators have completed more 9,823.95 hours of Community Service throughout Towson, Baltimore and the surrounding area. This accomplishment has exceeded the mark achieved for last year 6,250 hours, an increase of 57% from last year, which in itself was a record year for community interaction from Towson Athletics.

    -Not paying out buyouts and salary increases for all of the staff turnover on his watch
    >>> No coach has been bought out of a contract since the new Director of Athletics started in October 2010. The only coach that has been bought out of a contract in recent years was a former head football coach, who was discharged from the University in Fall 2008 and that buyout concluded during the 2010-11 year. Staff changes have been made according to the strategic goals of the department.

    -Not spending money on a new basketball court and then putting a new one in the new arena
    >>> The portable basketball court that was in place for the 2010-11 season was not playable for the 2011-12 season. Towson Athletics was able to purchase a slightly used portable floor, via surplus, from UMBC for a total cost of $30,000. This floor will continue to be used in the Towson Center for practices and general use after Tiger Arena opens this spring. The floor in Tiger Arena is a permanent floor, not a portable floor.

    -Not spending money on a football turf surface that could have been installed for free
    >>> The Unitas Stadium turf is used by Football, Field Hockey, Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s Lacrosse, Intramurals, and Club Sports, along with outside rentals which are managed by Events and Conference Services.

    The turf that was in place in 2011 was originally installed in the Summer of 2007 for a cost of $778,900. This was paid for by the Office of Facilities Management.

    Following the 2011 fall sports season a premature degradation of the artificial grass fibers in the 2007 Turf. As this product was under warranty, Towson had the following two options;

    1.The field would be replaced under the warranty conditions issued at the time of original install. This replacement The cost to the University under this scenario would be $0 and the warranty protection would only go through 2015.

    2.Towson could upgrade the field system to the latest grade of turf fiber which has been proven to be the most durable and resilient on the market. With the upgrade, Towson would be issued a new, full coverage 8-year warranty effective from the date of install completion of the new field, through 2020. The cost for this upgrade would be $175K.

    Towson chose to go with option #2 because the quality of the product was better and the warranty with the upgrade went forward for another 5 years. Had option #1 been selected and the identical product been reinstalled, the warranty was for half as long and had another failure taken place after 4 years and warranty expiration, the university would need to purchase, off warranty, new install of Revolution would run in excess of $600K including old field removal, graphics and equipment.

    -Asking a “donor” to donate money to programs instead of a tiger statue

    >>> Athletics did not ask a donor to pay for a Tiger statue. This was funded by the Alumni Association and by Athletics, with Athletics using restricted funds from a facilities account, which could only be used for facilities.

    -Using upfront payments from sponsorship to help support future spending rather than buying iPads

    >>> Athletics did not use upfront payments from sponsorships to purchase iPads.

    -Not spending money on renting portable speakers for football games

    >>> Athletics, along with Events Conference Services, purchased portable speakers prior to the 2011-12 academic year. These units are used for a variety of campus events.

    -Not trading gifts in kind for actual donations from donors

    >>> Cash is always the preferred option. The instances where gift in kind transactions are used is when they benefit the donor.

    There are no Title IX issues under any interpretation of the law. The NCAA has studied Towson athletics on a number of occasions, as have Towson’s peers at the conference level. There has never even been a whimper of non-compliance.

    >>> Towson has made program adjustments for Title IX purposes in 1992 (addition of women’s soccer), the reinstatement of women’s indoor track in the mid 1990’s, 2002 (upgrade of softball from Tier #2 sport to Tier #1 sports), and 2007 (addition of women’s golf). When softball was elevated to a Tier #1 sport in 2002 that program was due to have all of the laundry list items that were commensurate with other tier #1 sports at Towson. Very few, if any of these items were acted upon over the next decade. Thus, the funds are being directed to Towson for the construction of a new softball stadium.

  • Paper Tiger said:

    Regardless of what the AD spent money on, he’s guilty of mismanaging finances. If he couldn’t see that his spending was going to cause a deficit that would result in the elimination of two well regarded and well entrenched sports (sports that played no part in the financial crisis that his spending decisions caused), then he is a poor AD who should never be trusted to ever handle money again. If he did know his spending was going to mean the elimination of programs but did not bother to warn the school and the programs in advance, then he is a poor human being. Either way, he’s not someone you want on a college campus.

  • Facts said:

    But at Towson University, fears of a Title IX proportionality problem were raised as part of the decision to cut men’s teams.

    The university hired the New England law firm of Libby, O’Brien, Kingsley and Champion to review its Title IX compliance a few years ago. Towson previously had complied with the law through another method, in which a school agrees to regularly add women’s teams.

    But the law firm told Towson in 2011 that it could no longer rely on that mode of compliance because of a court ruling against the University of California, Davis. Because UC Davis had suspended a women’s team many years ago, the court said, it could not show a continuous practice of adding teams.

    Towson, having suspended a women’s sport in the 1990s, now was at risk of failing to comply with Title IX, according to the lawyers, whose full report has not been released publicly. The school was advised to focus on proportionality to ensure compliance, leading to the decision to cut men’s baseball and soccer to better balance the number of male and female athletes.

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