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Release Date: 03-24-2004

Athletic Department Launches Plan Aimed At Maintaining Academic Excellence, Achieving Success

Author: Gordon Wayne Woodworth
Phone: (802)656-1110 Fax: (802) 656-3203

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Seeking to maintain its enviable record of academic excellence among student-athletes while more aggressively pursuing the level of success that the Catamounts achieved with men’s basketball last week, the University of Vermont Department of Athletics is launching a plan to accomplish both strategies.

The plan involves further realignment of sports programs, substantially increasing scholarship support, strengthening recreational sports opportunities, providing more adequate operational assistance to teams to help with their recruiting and travel expenses, and eliminating a tier system that previously set different expectations per sport and allocated resources accordingly.

“The goal with this plan is to create a culture of excellence, both in the classroom and on the field, that is conducive to student-athletes having an exceptional experience at the University of Vermont,” said Athletic Director Dr. Robert Corran. “Under this plan, we will set higher expectations for academic and athletic success for all varsity sports, but we will also be in a better position to establish more equality in the way we support those programs.”

Scholarship support will increase from 82 scholarships totaling $2.4 million distributed primarily across eight sports to 124 scholarships totaling $3.7 million distributed across 20 sports in five years under the plan.

The realignment strategy will result in the reinstatement of men’s indoor and outdoor track and field and the elimination of men and women’s tennis, men’s golf and men’s swimming. Program eliminations will affect 45 student-athletes. The reinstatement of men’s track and field will bring 30 student-athletes back into the program.

Corran said team eliminations, while extremely painful to the student-athletes affected, are a necessary component of the overall strategy. “Unfortunately we don’t have the resources that would be needed to support those programs adequately,” he said. “Maintaining programs that are not funded at a Division I level and don’t have a reasonable chance to succeed is not in the best interest of our student-athletes.” Impact on the full-time coaching staff will not be substantial, Corran said.

The plan follows a series of initiatives that have progressively positioned the Athletic Department on an upward trajectory. They include a previous streamlining exercise that reduced varsity sports programs from 27 to 22 in 2001, the establishment of new leadership, the creation of new contracts for coaches with associated salary increases, and joining the Hockey East Association.