WMU News

Trustees accept recommendation to eliminate four varsity sports

Dec. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO--Acting at its Dec. 12 meeting, Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees approved a recommendation to eliminate four varsity sports at the close of the teams' 2003-04 seasons and the current fiscal year.

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The move, expected to save the University $535,000 beginning with the 2004-05 fiscal year, was brought to the board by WMU President Judith I. Bailey. The recommendation, publicly announced Dec. 4, came after a two-month review of intercollegiate athletics. The sports eliminated include one of the University's oldest athletic offerings, men's outdoor track, as well as men's indoor track, men's cross country and a newer addition to the lineup, synchronized skating. The four sports represent a total of 100 student-athletes and three coaches.

"This was an incredibly painful decision," Bailey told trustees. "But hard choices have to be made, and we cannot avoid taking action to protect our core academic mission. Athletic success has a rich tradition here, and that is important to our University community, but ensuring academic success for 29,000 students must continue to be our overriding goal."

Annual scholarship commitments to athletes in the affected sports will be honored for the duration of each athlete's academic career at WMU. The scholarship funding, which this year amounts to $165,000, will come from the president's unrestricted fund beginning in 2004-05.

A Sports Sponsorship Review Committee was created by Bailey Sept. 24 and charged with a review of current athletics programming. The review was launched after WMU suffered a $12.5 million cut in its state appropriation at the beginning of the 2003-04 academic year. An executive order cut by Gov. Granholm Dec. 10 will mean an additional reduction in funds of nearly $5.7 million for the University, with the possibility of even more base budget cuts in 2004-05.

The committee recommended cutting the three men's track teams in its final report. WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard added the recommendation to cut the skating team in order to address the new budget cuts, which have been expected for several weeks, as well as the long-term budget issues that stem from reduction to the University's base funding.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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