Release Date: 09-14-2001
UVM Athletics to Reduce Scope of Offerings
Contact: Jeffrey R Wakefield
, FAX 802-656-3203
Consistent with a recommendation to assess athletic offerings to ensure the right scope for the institution, the Department of Athletics will be eliminating five sports at the end of the current season.
"This is certainly one of the more difficult processes I've been involved with as athletic director, but knowing our need for strategic planning and our finite resources, I believe this action is necessary," said Director of Athletics Rick Farnham.
The following five sports out of 27 will play one last season during the 2001-2002 academic year and will no longer be offered beyond that point: Men's and women's gymnastics; women's volleyball; men's indoor track and field and men's outdoor track and field. The remaining 22 sports are not negatively affected by the decision.
Farnham said the move brings UVM more closely into alignment with other schools in the America East conference. For instance, the average number of sports offered by schools in the conference is 19. UVM was offering the greatest number of sports with the lowest level of financial resources and the fewest number of available scholarships.
David Nestor, interim vice-president for student affairs, cautioned that the decision does not substantially address issues of greater competitiveness, especially in the top-tier sports. He said progress on that goal will require further investment along with the articulation of clear expectations and objectives, as addressed in other parts of the report.
"This decision represents an important step forward in terms of focus and quality, and allows us to use our limited financial, human and facilities resources more effectively," Nestor said.
Interim President Edwin Colodny said, "This has been a difficult decision but we believe it to be a reasonable one. It strikes a sound balance between focusing our overall program in areas where we can compete at a reasonable level and our continuing desire to offer athletes a diverse array of intercollegiate sports offerings."
The decision to eliminate some sports came after a long and careful review process. In its most official form, it dates back to October and November of 1999 when the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics conducted a comprehensive review of the programs. It presented a report to the president and the Board of Trustees on Feb. 25, 2000, in which it concluded that, "if sufficient additional institutional funding is not available, internal reallocation within athletics will be necessary."
Among the report's recommendations was the need to "continually assess athletic offerings and operations to determine if the scope, quality, and focus of our overall program is the correct fit and size for the institution and the image we are striving to reinforce."
Following a thorough assessment of the report, the Athletics Department produced a "Framework for Change" document, which outlines several factors contributing to the need for change and identified the criteria under which programs slated for elimination were evaluated. Included in the criteria were the program's impact on student enrollment; the sport's level of competitive success; the level of interest generated; potential for future growth; level of financial resources; and the program's contribution to academic quality.