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The following letter was presented toSenior Members ofUVMís Administrationto summarize the concerns about the termination of UVMís Menís Track and Field Team and to offer an alternative. This alternative wouldallow Alumni and others, who support UVMís Track Team, time to generate funds to endow the future of the program. A critical component of this proposal is the immediate reinstatement of the program before further damage is done. This proposal is currentlyunder consideration by the Administration.

†††††††††††

January 2, 2002

 

 

We appreciate having had an opportunity to meet with various University of Vermont (UVM) Administration representatives on December 17th.At that time we agreed that a summary letter should be compiled to review our position.

 

Since the announcement of the termination of Menís Track and Field was made on September 13, the UVM Track and Field community has been in an uproar. As facts are unearthed and the rationale challenged, this decision does not stand up well to scrutiny. We are sympathetic to the financial challenges of UVM, yet believe this decision will, in the long run, only exacerbate this condition and represents a missed financial and leadership opportunity. Let us explain our perspective.

 

Historical Ė Vermont Track and Field celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. A passionate alumni base exists, comprised of over 800 persons, who participated and benefited from their UVM Track and Field experience. The Gutterson Field House and Archie Post Athletic Field are named after outstanding Track and Field athletes - one an Olympic Gold Medal Winner and the other a renowned Coach.Last yearís America East MVP was a Vermont male athlete. In the past three years, no less than 14 school records have been broken. The Menís team, with only one full scholarship, has outperformed many other UVM teams with significant scholarship aid.For a full rundown on the team please stroll through www.uvmtrack.com.

 

Student-Athlete Academic Analysis Ė UVMís Menís Track and Field Athletes represent some of the finest student-athletes on campus. Last Spring, Jack Galbreath, was UVMís only athlete to win both the Verizon All District and All American First team award. He was joined by 5 other teammates with G.PA.s over 3.6.UVMís MenísTrack Team, when compared year in and year out, standout when compared to other athletic teams within the UVM community.

 

It is not surprising that countless UVM Track and Field alumni have gone on to excel in business, law, medicine and more. These alumni, as a collective unit, relish their UVM athletic experience and are ready to insure its survival.

 

NCAA Ė Menís Track and Field is offered at 85% of the Division 1 schools in the United States. Menís Track and Field is second, only to football, in NCAA scholar-athlete participation. Over 1.6 Million High School and postgraduate athletes compete in the United States. Vermont High School Track and Field has wide participation throughout the state.

 

Vermont Heritage Ė Menís Track and Field and Cross Country offer the single greatest opportunity for Vermont student-athletes to participate and excel in a Division I sport - while attending their state supported university. Track and Field uniquely reflects the true instate composition of the student body Ė with over 50% of the team former Vermont High School athletes.Many other UVM sports have minimal Vermont residents on their team with some having few if any active participants. In contrast, almost every High School in Vermont offers Menís Track and Field. *

 

Extraordinary Value Ė The Operating Costs of Menís Track and Field, on a per athlete basis, are lower than any other sport at the UVM.The decision to eliminate the most cost effective Varsity Sports program, offered at UVM, is difficult to rationalize, particularly when budget reductions are part of the reason. Real Operating costs of the program are minimal. *

 

Diversity Initiative Ė The NCAA has recognized that Track and Field offers the best opportunity for Division I institutions to attract, retain and support a diverse student body. UVM has stated that improving Diversity is a major initiative for the coming year and beyond. Eliminating Menís Track and Field has destroyed the single greatest opportunity for attracting student/athletics who reflect ethnic minorities. Simply put, the decision to terminate Menís Track and Field, constrasted with an institutional goal of increasing minority enrollment represents contradicting strategies.*

 

Collateral Damage Ė The decision to eliminate Menís Track and Field at UVM was presented to the public as having no collateral damage. In reality this action initiates the demise of Menís Cross Country, which will be severely limited in its ability to attract male distance runners, and has already impacted the Womenís Track and Field program.The Womenís Track team, debatably the UVMís most successful Womenís athletic program over the past few years, is already feeling this impact. Recently a top women recruit rejected enrollment at UVM, questioning the institutionís commitment to Track and Field. This type of situation will only increase as other institutions, competing for the same student athletes, will insure recruits become aware of the tenuous position of a single gender UVM Track and Field program. Effectively, 6 sports have been damaged by this action (counting indoor and outdoor track as separate). This loss, and potentially more damage will be suffered, all to save $10,000 a year.*

 

America East Ė In the Framework for Change document, developed by the UVM Athletic Department, it was noted ďThe sports offering should reflect the importance of conference affiliation and provide for full participation in the America East Conference.Ē As it stands today, UVM will be the only school in the America East Conference without a Menís Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field team. There are many sports that UVM will still participation in, such as Lacrosse, Swimming, Golf and Tennis, which have limited conference participation. Each of these teams has higher participation costs per athlete and fewer Vermont student athletes. None can boast a 100-year tradition, or the stellar academic or athletic achievements of the Menís Track and Field team.

 

Alumni Support Ė UVM Track Alumni are ready and willing to support the Menís Track and Field Program. A similar action, taken last year at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), generated donations of $500,000 in less than 6 months.Unfortunately, contrary to the actions suggested in the Athletic Council Reportexternal philanthropic sources of funds were not contacted prior to this unilateral action. This viable support option cannot be tapped into under the present conditions. Only the immediate and complete reinstatement of Menís Track and Field will result in the full participation of Track and Field Alumni. UNH found that over 65% of the contributors to their Track and Field campaign were first time donors, demonstrating the loyalty and effectiveness of a directed fund raising effort. How can the UVM afford to alienate this constituency and miss this significant opportunity? *

 

Title IX Ė In the Athletic Council Report it was stated ď UVM is in a positive position with respect to gender equity as compared to most institutionsĒ.Yet, the current Athletic Department Administration is now unsure or unaware of how to reinstate Menís Track and Field and still be in compliance. Please remember, this is a program that has existed for 100 years and throughout the entire reign of Title IX. All other America East Conference members, many of whom must deal with the significant challenges of Menís football, have been able to meet their Gender Equity requirements and still offer Menís Track and Field.

 

The NCAA www site provides valuable insight regarding an institutionís efforts in meeting Title IX. In asking the question ďDoes Title IX mandate that a decrease in opportunities for male athletes be made in order to provide an increase in opportunities for female athletes?Their answer:

 

††††††††††† ďTitle IX does not require reductions in opportunities for male student-athletes.

††††††††††† One of the purposes is to create the same opportunity and quality of treatment

††††††††††† for both female and male student-athletes. Eliminating menís sports programs

†††††††††† is not the intent of Title IX. The intent of Title IX is to bring treatment of the

††††††††††† disadvantaged gender up to the level of the advantaged group.Ē

 

The NCAA goes on in a ďA Guide to Recent Developments in Title IX LitigationĒ to explain that there has been considerable legal action taken on the part of male teams that have been eliminated while leaving their female counterpart in place.

 

Foresight Ė UVM can no longer hold home meets due to the poor quality of the outdoor facilities. Many local Vermont High Schools can boast better facilities.A new track is required now to hold Womenís meets and is already a stated goal of Developmentís much heralded Campaign. Yet, when this project is completed there will be no Menís team available to compete on this state of the art facility. Not only are we challenged to comprehend this incongruity, but can only imagine how future students, parents, alumni and taxpayers will digest this investment. The ability to successfully approach Menís Track and Field Alumni to help build the track will have been lost.Was this even considered in the decision to terminate the program?

 

Future of UVM Athletics Ė Everyone associated with UVM understands that severe funding limitations exist. The long-term future success of the Athletic Department will increasingly rest in the ability to motivate Alumni and other external sources to provide a significant endowment. To date, there has been a severe lack of focused Athletic fundraising. We believe each team, whether it is Hockey, Baskeball, Lacrosse or Menís and Womenís Track and field, will actively need to address their unique constituency. We are ready to be a prototype for this activity, upon reinstatement of the Track and Field program and establishment of a realistic goal. To date, the funding goals mentioned by UVM Development are not realistic for an individual sport. However, this overall concept is what the Athletic Department, as a whole should be doing annually.

 

Summary Ė We believe a serious mistake was made in terminating the Menís Track and Field team at the University of Vermont.

 

While there has been an attempt by Administration representatives to explain that 6 Criteria were applied to all 27 sports, with equal weighting, there is not quantitative analysis available of the results. Why can no points or value matrix be applied to the 162 variables (27 Sports vs. 6 Criteria)? A rationale review of these criteria cannot produce the results indicated.

 

While the intent was good, this decision appears to have been made under duress without a full understanding of the implications. Weíre confident that when the Board of Trustees asked UVM to focus, it did not mean to eliminate their most cost effective sport, with the highest percentage of Vermont students that represented the model profile of a student-athlete.We believe that the Board of Trustees would not wish to learn that a $500,000 - $1,000,000 fundraising effort has been sabotaged in order to save $10,000 a year.

 

The positive advantages of reinstating the program far outweigh the disadvantages. As recently reported in the Burlington Free Press on December 20th, 2001 by Provost Bramly ďExcellence is the key to our future. Weíre not going to be a great University by cutting.Ē We agree with this analysis, and suggest that the opportunity for greatness in Menís Track and Field is close and within reach. It just requires some creativity, proactive planning and good execution.

 

Please let us help.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Menís Track and Field Alumni

251 Woodland Way

Charlotte, Vermont 05445

Work 802 Ė425-2604

Email: weithp@biotek.com

 

As represented by Charlie Claudio, Kevin Hanlon, Jim McDonald and Peter Weith

 

 

* See Attached Documentation