The Board of Trustees’ decision yesterday, Feb, 24, to reinstate the men’s crew and women’s rowing teams to Division I status should come as welcome news to the Temple community, which has divided in the two months since the university announced in December that it would be eliminating seven sports.
The board’s decision to cut the crew and rowing teams, based on a recommendation from Athletic Director Kevin Clark, was wrong from the start.
The administration said on multiple occasions that the teams were cut because their facilities were inadequate. Temple is the only rowing school in the city that doesn’t house its teams in a boathouse. Its former home, the East Park Canoe House, was condemned in 2008. The crew and rowing teams have been competing out of tents for the past five years.
In an editorial published on Feb. 3, we called for the reinstatement of the crew and rowing teams and argued why cutting programs due to their facilities issues was fundamentally unfair. After all, it was the university who failed to get a proposal to build a new boathouse approved by the city last year. The clear lack of planning and miscommunication that went into the fundraising effort for the project may have doomed the boathouse from the start.
For the university to cut the crew and rowing teams due to the administration’s failures, without consulting coaches or student-athletes first, was perhaps the greatest injustice among the sports cuts.
Now, due to an agreement with the city, the Owls will share space in the 9,000 square-foot EPCH after the facility undergoes a $5.5 million renovation, which won’t include additions. The arrangement is far from the 23,000 square-foot, multi-level boathouse the crew and rowing teams wanted to build as their own, but as coaches have said, it’s the only alternative to being cut.
It’s sad that the immediate future for the crew and rowing teams seems to be confined within a relatively small, 90-year old building. It sits about 100 yards from St. Joseph’s University’s 15,000 square-foot boathouse and doesn’t stack up to the facilities of other rowing schools in the city.
It’s even sadder that it took the potential elimination of the programs to get the Owls a home at all.