Temple Student Government unveiled its program to support student-athletes affected by the university’s planned cuts of seven intercollegiate sports at its general assembly meeting last week, the first formal action from student leadership since the cuts were approved by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 6.
At the Feb. 10 general assembly meeting, TSG members presented their plan, which includes rallying days for students to attend matches of each affected sport and a website that TSG hopes will help student-athletes through the transition.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee organized the dates for the university-wide Owl Days from February through May. TSG and the committee said they expect large crowds for men’s gymnastics, men’s crew, women’s rowing, baseball, softball and men’s track & field events. Buses and special activities will be provided for students who want to go out and support the teams.
Brooklin White, president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of the softball team, said many student-athletes approached the committee and asked for more support from students.
“We want to see tailgates at every event,” White said.
Student Body President Darin Bartholomew said he also wished to see an environment more like Temple’s football or basketball games to support the seven sports, which suffered low attendance and student support before the announcement of the cuts.
“We’ve never organized students to go to these games to this extent before,” Bartholomew said. “We’re prepared for as many students as want to go.”
Bartholomew said he hoped alumni would support the teams as well.
Since December, student-athletes and coaches have fought against the cuts, looking for ways to reinstate the teams. Despite their efforts, Bartholomew said the goal of the TSG support program was not to try to get Temple to reverse its decision on the cuts.
“Our goal is to support the students affected,” Bartholomew said. “This is about showing who we are as a Temple family.”
Though Temple plans to slash the seven sports on July 1, Bartholomew said he wants to continue the support program past that date.
“My hope is in the future this effort can be sustained,” Bartholomew said.
TSG also set up a new section of its website to support the affected student-athletes directly.
“A lot of them are so lost right now,” White said. “It’s important to advertise that we have a support system out there.”
Ray Smeriglio, TSG’s director of communications, led the team that made the website, and spoke about its features at the Feb. 10 general assembly meeting.
“We wanted to give [student-athletes] something to make the process easier,” Smeriglio said. “It’s an aggregated database, all seven sections of the website were set up to answer any questions student-athletes might have.”
The website lists resources on transferring, scholarships, psychological aid, career help and information on continuing to play sports at Temple through club and intramural programs.
Smeriglio said that prior to launch, TSG showed the website to student-athletes and administrators at the Resnick Academic Support Center. They looked through the features and found them helpful, he said.
“It’s not a fix-it-all,” Smeriglio said, stressing that the most important part of the website was to inform affected student-athletes about what is available for them and about the support they will receive from students and alumni.
Those who don’t choose to transfer to pursue their sport at another university will still be accommodated by Temple, Smeriglio said. The website tells student-athletes that their scholarships will be honored, priority registration will continue and support services will remain open at the Resnick Academic Support Center after the cuts are made. However, special on-campus housing will not be provided to affected student-athletes as soon as the 2014-15 academic year ends.
As many student-athletes have stated their intentions to transfer because of the cuts, TSG outlined a short guide to the process in the new website.
“If student-athletes leave the university, they could come back and still receive the same financial aid,” Smeriglio said.
Ultimately, TSG acknowledged that the program will not fully repair the gap soon to open up in the lives of many student-athletes, and it is not TSG’s goal to campaign to reinstate the seven affected sports. Bartholomew said he expects the program to bring the Temple community together around the student-athletes and help them through a rough time.
Joe Gilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.