When university President Wallace Loh received recommendations to cut eight athletic teams in 2012, student-athletes, coaches and alumni banded together to try to raise the millions of dollars needed to continue competing. And even though some deadlines were extended, seven teams were ultimately cut.
But 50 miles north on I-95, there’s a different story.
In a situation similar to this university’s athletic department budget woes, Towson University President Maravene Loeschke announced in March the men’s baseball and soccer teams would be eliminated to help the department balance its budget while maintaining Title IX compliance. But rather than ask student-athletes to raise the money needed to save their teams, Gov. Martin O’Malley stepped in for the baseball team.
O’Malley announced earlier this week that he plans to create a supplemental budget of $300,000 for the next two That hasn’t sat well with former members of this university’s cut teams — which include men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, acrobatics and tumbling, women’s water polo, men’s cross country and men’s indoor track and field — who said they feel slighted after receiving little support to save their sports. And many state residents have criticized the governor’s move because state public universities cannot use state funds to support athletic programs.
The athletic department did not comment on Wednesday.
“I’m glad that it’s one less sport being saved from being cut, but it’s tough for us to see that just one year later after our team was cut,” said Ginny Glover, a former member of the swimming and diving team. “We kept being told that it was something that we couldn’t save, and it was out of our hands, so it’s hard to see another sport at another state university being saved.”
Glover, last season’s captain and the school record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and five out of five relay events, added it’s a “tough pill to swallow.”
To continue competing, the swimming and diving teams had to raise a combined $11.57 million; acrobatics and tumbling and men’s track needed $9.5 million and women’s water polo and men’s tennis had an $8 million goal to reach. While some delegates spoke of the importance of saving the teams, no state officials put forth proposals to help the teams financially.
The swimming and diving team came the closest to reaching its goal when it raised more than $1 million in pledges and donations and persuaded Loh to extend its deadline. Even with the help of parents and alumni and support from Michael Phelps, however, they couldn’t raise enough money.
“Even outside of the scope of sports, I think it is ridiculous,” said Tyler Thompson, a junior biochemistry major. “I don’t think state money should be given to sports teams to begin with, but especially considering the issue in Towson was due to mismanagement of funds, to give them more money to waste seems ridiculous.”
But because there’s no objective way to decide which teams should be saved, Glover said, O’Malley’s move should not be lambasted.
“How do you decide who gets the money and compare each team? By grades? By number of athletes? What each sport’s budget is? Do you compare how they rank in the NCAA or in their conference? It’s not black and white,” Glover said. “It’s Mr. O’Malley’s decision and unfortunately, it wasn’t Maryland swimming and diving or any of the other teams that the athletic department decided to cut.”
And because all athletes put in similar time and effort into their sports, Glover said she isn’t resentful Towson’s baseball players get to continue competing.
“It’s a fair thing for people to believe that it’s a poor use of state funds, but then again, these athletes are representing this state,” Glover said. “I think it’s a great use of the money. They are full-time students, they train hard, they study hard, they have tough schedules and they represent the state. I think it’s a good use of those funds.”