The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVII, Issue 25
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
March 15, 2002

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin

 Page One Grain & Chaff Obituaries Letters to the Chronicle Archives Feedback Weekly Bulletin




Athletics to eliminate 7 intercollegiate sports

by Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff

The Athletic Department this week announced the planned elimination of seven intercollegiate teams at the end of the semester, a move intended to save $1.1 million.

     The cuts, which were outlined Monday by interim Chancellor Marcellette G. Williams and athletic director Robert Marcum, will affect women's volleyball; men's and women's water polo; men's and women's gymnastics; men's tennis; and men's indoor track and field. The dropping of those programs at the end of the academic year will reduce the number of campus sports from 29 to 22.

     The cuts will affect 136 students of the 800 varsity athletes on campus. Four full-time head coaches, two full-time assistant coaches, and four part-time assistant coaches will be eliminated.

     Men's gymnastics coach Roy John-son and women's gymnastics coach Dave Kuzara will be laid off and the vacancy created by the resignation of women's volleyball coach Bonnie Kenny will not be refilled. Women's water polo coach Donna Heinel, who is also an assistant swimming coach, will lose two-thirds of her salary. Judy Dixon, who coaches both the men's and women's tennis teams, will lose an assistant coach. The cuts will not affect men's indoor track coach Ken O'Brien, who coaches men's cross country or men's water polo coach Russ Yarworth, whose appointment is as swimming coach.

     Williams and Marcum said the cuts will allow the campus to reallocate some scholarship funds and also remain in compliance with Title IX and exceed the proportionality requirements of the law.

     They said by funding 22 intercollegiate sports, the campus will still exceed the national average of other major public institutions. The national average for Division I public institutions is 18 sports.

     "We regret the necessity of making this announcement," said Williams in a prepared statement. "This decision in no way reflects on the dedication, passion, and abilities of the many people who have contributed to these sports over the years. The sports involved, the coaches involved, the alumni, and the student-athletes who will be affected have contributed greatly to the life of the University."

     However, Williams said, "Given the financial situation in the Commonwealth and a budget cut of nearly $17 million to the campus in the current fiscal year, we had to make this regrettable move."

     "Our charge has been to build a top rate Division I athletic program for the Commonwealth," said Marcum. "The resources made available by the University, the Board of Trustees and the state, have enabled us to fulfill that charge, both academically and athletically. Due to the current budgetary crisis that the state and the University are facing, we received a mandate from the University to reduce the program. We have done that with the goal that the remaining programs will be stronger and more competitive. We fully understand what is taking place financially throughout the institution, and that the reduction in athletics is just one of many reductions being considered."

     Marcum pointed out that among all public institutions in the nation, only Ohio State, with 35, has more sports than UMass.

     Marcum said that sports were selected for elimination based on a variety of factors. These included the national and regional health of the sport, Title IX participation considerations, facilities issues, the overall strength and success of the sport at UMass, in-state versus out-of-state participation, and the financial resources that would be required to bring the sports to a more competitive level in the future. In evaluating the programs, certain criteria were in direct conflict with other criteria. In some cases, win-loss records and post-season success were outweighed by other factors, Marcum said.

     "This action impacts a lot of people," Marcum said, "and we sympathize with those athletes and coaches who have given so much of themselves to the University and the Athletic Department." He added that to assist with the transition, existing athletic aid that student-athletes in the affected sports are receiving will be extended for one additional year (the 2002-03 academic year). For those choosing to transfer and to continue their athletic careers at another school, he said, "We will do everything in our power to assist them through that process."

     The steps were backed by President William M. Bulger: "We believe this action will allow the Amherst campus to maintain the athletic excellence that has become its hallmark. I am confident that in concentrating and focusing our efforts in this manner, the result will be greater stability and greater success. I would also like to emphasize to the current student-athletes and coaches, as well as those who are considering coming to the University in the future, that we are committed to strengthening the remaining programs and ensuring they are able to be competitive in the future."

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