AU cuts golf and tennis programs
The AU Athletics Department announced it will cut the men's golf and men's and women's tennis programs after this season, according to a statement released Thursday evening.
Scholarships from those programs, part of AU's total of 80 sports scholarships, will be redirected to other sports that do not meet NCAA maximum scholarship limits, the statement indicates.
The department will honor all issued scholarships in those sports if athletes decide to remain at AU, the statement indicates. NCAA rules stipulate that because the university eliminated the program, athletes who transfer will be eligible for competition at other schools in fall 2005.
The cuts mark a continuing restructuring of the athletic program that started in November 2003, when AU announced the elimination of 20 scholarships, 15 of which came from the swimming and diving program.
The department is terminating the programs "to better focus its resources on a smaller number of teams and create greater competitive potential," according to the statement.
Both tennis programs enter this season as defending Patriot League champions, and the men's team has not lost a PL title since entering the league three seasons ago.
The swimming and diving scholarship cuts occurred before Joni Comstock took over as AU's athletic director without a head administrator in December 2003. Comstock said she would have supported those cuts - which officials said were motivated by financial debts - if she had been in office at the time.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday, several members of the golf and tennis teams emerged from the athletic department offices visibly distraught. Some cried, others stood silent, and others still consoled and embraced one other.
Comstock is quoted in the department's release. However, neither the AU Athletic Department nor AU athletes were available for comment to The Eagle at publication time.
The Eagle will run a full story in Monday's print edition, and continue coverage throughout the spring.