News

University to eliminate seven intercollegiate sports

The Board of Trustees approved a decision to cut baseball, softball, men’s crew, women’s rowing, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field.

The Board of Trustees approved a recommendation from Athletic Director Kevin Clark Friday to eliminate seven intercollegiate sports from the university’s Division I sponsorship, effective July 1, 2014.

The following sports will be cut: baseball, softball, men’s crew, women’s rowing, men’s gymnastics and men’s indoor/outdoor track & field. More than 200 student-athletes will be affected and nine full-time coaches will lose their jobs.

The cuts were described by officials as a culmination of the university’s long history of an underfunded athletic department despite sponsoring a relatively large number of sports. Student-athletes under scholarship are still guaranteed financial aid for the remainder of their academic tenure and will be able to transfer without sitting out a year.

The cuts will save the university an estimated $3 million to $3.5 million. In an interview after the announcement, Clark denied that the cuts were made to pump money into the upstart football program.

“This is to resize our budget and to give our student-athletes remaining a chance to compete and give them the experience they deserve,” Clark said. He said there was no pressure from officials in the American Athletic Conference to improve facilities or cut sports.

Clark said the decision to cut five men’s sports was made to help balance Temple’s ratio of male/female student-athletes. Title IX requires that the percentage of male/female student-athletes should closely represent the student body population at the university and that the proportion of student aid should closely resemble the participating male/female ratio.

Temple has an overall ratio of about 51 percent women to 49 percent men. Prior to the cuts, Temple’s athletic programs were made up of about 52 percent men and 48 percent women, but the university gave 58 percent of its student aid to men, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Clark said the decision on the cuts are final and there won’t be an opportunity for any team to fundraise itself back into the athletic department, which some teams have done at other universities.

Clark made his recommendation after nearly a year-long review that began shortly after he arrived at the university in January. Clark’s recommendation was approved by President Theobald and unanimously approved by the board at a public session in Sullivan Hall on Friday afternoon.

“This is an extremely difficult decision, but it is being done in the best long-term interests of our student-athletes,” Theobald said in a statement.

Student Body President Darin Bartholomew said it was a “heartbreaking day for Temple University.”

“Rather than make the necessary adjustments when the funding issue was less harmful, past administrators ignored it and created the unavoidable situation that new administrators found themselves inheriting today,” Bartholomew said in a statement.

Clark met with coaches individually before personally informing students of his decision at a meeting with the affected programs at the Student Pavilion later in the afternoon.

On his one-on-one conversations with coaches whose teams are being cut, Clark said: “You could feel their passion and you could feel their pain.” When speaking about underclassmen student-athletes on eliminated teams, Clark said: “I feel like I took an opportunity away from them.”

Athletics committee chairman Lewis Katz called the cuts “an enormously difficult decision.” The athletics committee also voted unanimously in favor of Clark’s recommendation.

Multiple coaches said they will not receive a severance package. Baseball coach Ryan Wheeler said he doesn’t believe any of the coaches will be granted one. A university official said each of the affected coaches were signed to one-year contracts, but declined to talk specifics.

The cuts represent the most sweeping reduction to the athletic department since the university cut eight varsity sports in 1986 and comes at a time when several universities across the country have recently announced their intentions to redistribute athletic funding to stay afloat in the world of Division I sports, which has become an increasingly bloated financial enterprise.

The University of Maryland, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, cut seven sports last year to help settle an anticipated $17 million deficit in its athletic budget. Earlier this week, Robert Morris University announced it would be reducing its Division I sponsorship from 23 to 16, citing a desire to invest more heavily in less sports.

A report released Wednesday by the Knight Commission, a college athletics watchdog, concluded athletic spending per athlete from 2005-11 grew at a faster rate than academic spending per student in every Division I subdivision.

The cuts came less than six months into the Owls’ tenure in The American, in which most opposing schools have larger budgets and sponsor a smaller number of sports than the Owls.

A Temple News analysis of athletic budgets of schools in the new conference, conducted in the spring, showed that Temple’s operating expenses per sport during the 2011-12 reporting year were less than every university – except Tulsa and Tulane – set to join The American by 2015.

These operating expenses, which don’t include coaches’ salaries or student aid, were allocated to the university’s 24 Division I sports out of its budget of $41.5 million. Temple was tied for first in The American in the number of sports it sponsored, but it ranked ninth out of 13 schools in the size of its budget.

As a result, Temple ranked below the average of The American schools in operating expenses in all of the university’s sports except football. In most cases, it was well below the average. Temple ranked last in baseball, third to last in combined track & field, second to last in softball and third to last in women’s rowing. Men’s crew is not a conference-affiliated sport.

Temple also ranked last in men’s soccer, women’s soccer, tennis (men’s and women’s combined) and volleyball.

Placing the Owls further behind the eight-ball were their sub-standard facilities for most of Temple’s non-revenue sports, which made recruiting more difficult and hampered attendance.

Temple is the only school in The American that doesn’t have stadium lighting and grandstand seating for its baseball and men’s and women’s soccer programs. The Owls rank last or second to last in attendance in four out of the five sports that competed this fall. Temple ranks first in field hockey, which competes in the Big East Conference and plays at Geasey Field on Main Campus.

When questioned in September, officials said there weren’t any plans to upgrade facilities for non-revenue sports, but multiple administrators have expressed a desire to bring the Ambler sports to facilities on Main Campus.

In April, the university tabled a plan it had submitted to the city to get the rowing teams a new boathouse. The teams have been rowing out of tents since its former home, the East Park Canoe House, was condemned in 2008.

The football team (1–7), men’s soccer team (3–1-4), women’s soccer team (1–8) and volleyball team (9–9) combined to go 14–25-4 in The American in the fall.

Every eliminated sport will compete in the spring.

Joey Cranney can be reached at joseph.cranney@temple.edu or on Twitter @joey_cranney. 

Sean Carlin, Evan Cross and Avery Maehrer contributed reporting.

20 Responses to “University to eliminate seven intercollegiate sports”

    • skennedy

      Football has, in the past, present and future, received all the money and press. It is sad that “2nd rated” sports have to be left behind. My advice for those athletes affected is to keep doing what you love. Maybe some day the tables will turn!

      Reply
  1. Lisa

    The news of TU Men’s Gymnastics, an excellent academic team who was honored numerous times by NCAA and recently won ECAC two years in a row being cut is devastating. You will never meet a more fine young group of men. This team knows the meaning of working hard as they practice year round and manage to hold excellent grades along with that and some of them work on top of it. Always willing to help out others. Trying to understand that this is a non-revenue generating sport is exceedingly difficult. I am sure this team would wear the same outfits as last year to keep their program alive. These boys do not deserve this and then to give them the news right before they head into finals was unbelievable.

    Reply
  2. Jon Schneider

    As a graduate of the physical therapy program and college of Allied Heath Professions, I will reiterate what I tell every student you have call my home: until you drop football, you will NEVER get a penny from me. The sport loses MILLIONS of dollars. It’s a disgrace those other student athletes pay the price for the mismanagement of that program. Lincoln Financial Field? What a joke. You could cover the whole baseball teams scholarships on the football coaches salary.

    Reply
  3. Jimmy John

    What a disgrace. This garbage is a result of the desire to build a football program that will never be able to compete in the NCAA. These clowns running the athletic department have overlooked the whole idea behind student athletics and should be relieved of their duties immediately. #NewRhulesucks

    Reply
  4. Joseph Marchetti

    What a sad statement on the thinking of Temple University. I am not sure why they do what they do. They closed Tyler’s campus and moved everyone to that awful building. Now, cut the gymnastics team, crew and softball. I am sad to say I graduated from Temple.

    Reply
    • Fran

      TEMPLE PRIDE — You have brought SHAME to this university. You claim this was a hard decision. I say it was an easy one for you. I’m sure you knew there was a financial problem. It would have taken time,effort, and work to figure where to cut overhead in all sports, but the “easy” choice was cut these student athletes off completly as the overhead. From what I read its all for the greater good of someone to have a football stadiumin the city and a highly competitive football team. You went into a conference with compition all over the country (Great Expence). These young student athletes could have brought and have brought dedication, pride and honor this univ. You chose to chop them away. Shame on all of you . I was a day from writing (small to you) a check for the most recent fund drive. If this is what Temple has become, I will never give to any drive again and will discourage anyone who would. Whe have a family history of Temple student grads. I hope someone will wake up and correct this travesty. Instead of the dedicated coaches and students being sacrificed, it should be those who allowed this to happen. Again shame on all of you who could not or would not find a better way. AND IM SURE THERE WAS.

      Reply
  5. Stupid Temple

    Absolute bullshit! I can’t believe the crap these school administrators will do while stuffing their pockets full of the money they are robbing from the students of with their absolutely absurd tuition costs. And don’t give that bullshit that their not trying to boost their “upstart” football program (if by upstart you mean absolutely terrible)! That’s all they ever do with any of the money they get for sports at any University, pump it into football and/basketball regardless of how terrible their teams are. Also, FYI Men’s gymnastics is by far the best team and by far the best athletes that Temple has. Not to mention that they have BY FAR the highest GPA’s of any sports team in the school. Gotta love how hard work and dedication pays off. FUCKERS!

    Reply
  6. Joseph Diguardia

    If Temple Athletes & Coaches accept This Decision without a Fight… or Solution … then they were never worthy of their positions in the first place.

    Reply
  7. Anne

    This is ridiculous. One of the reasons that they’re elimitmating programs is because other schools have done it. Temple having 24 sports attracts more people to the school and puts them above and beyond other schools. Well I mean not anymore. What makes me the most mad is about the men’s gymnastics team. This article says nothing about them at all. But apparently they’re cutting them because the gym is too small for girls and guys.. The girls and guys on the gymnastics team aren’t complaining about it at all, maybe they like being together, but stupid Clark said it was too small. The mens gymnastics team is probably one of the best sports teams on the campus, way better than the football team. Clark says it’s a hard decision to get rid of the teams, BULLSHIT! He doesn’t care at all. Clark I hope you know that a lot of people are angry with you.

    Reply
  8. WR Pickard

    Ostensibly the major problem was NCAA compliance with Title IX. An alternative way to fix that would have been to drop an absolutely dreadful football team — and its scholarships — which would have fixed the Title IX problem — AND the looming need to spend millions on a football stadium. The basketball program is sound, and so were the sports that are to be dropped. Football never made money, so the argument many schools use about funding non-revenue sports from football does not wash here.

    Collegiate sports ARE PART OF the educational experience. A majority of smaller division III colleges maintain more teams and varsity athletes than places like USC — and as has been expressed elsewhere — several of the sports that Temple dropped have a legacy of producing not only athletes of international caliber, but great students as well.

    So now Temple will offer less to prospective undergraduates in the way of both education and extracurricular activities, and gain nothing.

    A puzzling move at best.

    Reply
  9. Andrew Stover

    This is an Open Letter to Temple University, The Gymnastics Community, and Sports World:

    Gymnastics is one of the most watched sports during the Olympics world wide. Including Temple University, there are only 17 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics programs in the entire nation. This means that any gymnast who can even make it onto a collegiate team is one of the most elite athletes in the nation. And these are also the gymnasts who go on to represent the United States of America at international competitions, including the Olympics.

    Discontinuing funding of any NCAA Men’s Gymnastics program will be not only a major loss to the university, but to the entire national gymnastics community. I had to fight to keep the University of Illinois at Chicago Men’s Gymnastics program from being cut and I will fight just as hard to save Men’s Gymnastics Team at Temple University. Losing Temple gymnastics will cause a domino effect of problems throughout NCAA gymnastics that I am not willing to see happen. The Temple Athletic Director and University President need to understand that not only will they be taking away opportunities from students athletes at their own school but also at schools around the entire ECAC and NCAA.

    To Freddy and the men of Temple Gymnastics:

    You have always been fierce competitors on the competition floor, yet gracious hosts to the City of Brotherly Love. I know the rivalry that stood between us also drove us all to be better gymnasts, letting us reach new levels in our sport. However, there is no place for rivalry when it comes to saving our sport. I am all in. I will do everything I can to rally the troops and stand beside Temple Gymnastics in the fight to save this program.

    To those reading this:

    Sign the petition and then be ready to fight! This is a call to arms to support our brothers in sport.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew Stover
    University of Illinois at Chicago 2006–2010

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/798/504/911/save-temple-university-mens-gymnastics/

    http://www.templegymnastics.com

    Reply
  10. Kat

    This is an absolute disgrace and as an alumni, I am absolutely disgusted & ashamed of Temple’s extremely short sighted decision which has not only blemished the university’s reputation but alienated many contributing alumni. If these cuts go through, I will certainly never again donate to the Owl
    Club nor Temple Athletics.

    Reply
  11. Bryan

    Sad to see these teams dropped. Very surprised Temple would drop one of the fastest growing woman’s sports in the country being Softball. College world series for softball draws more viewers and revenue only third to football and basketball. I feel really bad for the incoming Freshman who were lied to by Temple by not disclosing possible decisions to drop these sports. This did not happen overnight.

    Reply
  12. Garth

    Money is the only thing that these carpetbagger administrators understand. (As for the board of trustees, they’re mostly a bunch of lawyers and salesmen—not a scholar among them.) If you care about this issue, write a letter to them informing them that you will never contribute a penny to Temple ever again. If you’re an alumnus/alumna and have been contributing on an annual basis, or whatever, be sure to make clear that you won’t be doing that anymore.

    Reply

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