Baseball Eliminated At Duquesne

January 27, 2010

Baseball Among Four Men’s Sports Being Axed At School

By Editor Sean Stires

The news was announced this week that Duquesne University is the latest school to cut its college baseball from its athletic offerings.  That means there will be at least two fewer college baseball programs at the Division I level in 2011, since the University of New Orleans announced last week that all of its athletic teams will begin the transition to the Division III level.  College baseball already lost two programs, Vermont and Northern Iowa, last year.

Duquesne explained the move as  “a strategic restructuring of its varsity sports program in an effort to maximize financial resources and ensure sustained athletic success.”  That sounds good, but four men’s sports (baseball, men’s swimming, men’s golf and wrestling) are getting the boot, while no women’s sports are being touched.

While protecting the bottom line is understandable, this is not just protecting the bottom line.  It’s protecting the bottom line while ensuring no gender equity lines will be crossed for quite some time.  After the elimination of the four men’s sports Duquesne will have six men’s varsity teams next year (including football), while fielding nine women’s teams.

This would be a good time to mention that the new book Strike IX by Paul Lonardo deals with this very subject.  The book chronicles the 1999 Providence baseball team’s final season of varsity baseball after it was cut by the school for fear of Title IX lawsuits.  Lonardo deftly explains Title IX in the book.

I know times are tough, and athletic departments everywhere are cutting corners as they try to do without revenue that they counted on to compete prior to the recession, but things just got a little bit tougher for the 70 “student-athletes” of four sports at Duquesne.

Here’s the official release Duquesne University issued this week:

PITTSBURGH – Duquesne University today announced a strategic restructuring of its varsity sports program in an effort to maximize financial resources and ensure sustained athletic success. The move will reduce the number of varsity sports from 20 to 16 and keep all related scholarship and operational funding within the athletic department.

“Focusing on and strengthening a core group of sports will maximize our ability to compete at the highest level, enhance the student athlete experience, and better utilize existing funding,” said Greg Amodio, Duquesne athletic director. More than $1M will be reallocated annually throughout the athletics program as a result of the move, which will discontinue baseball, men’s swimming, men’s golf and wrestling.

“This action is in no way meant to diminish the dedication, effort or ability of these fine student athletes, coaches and alumni. They have contributed greatly to Duquesne athletics and to the vitality and history of the University,” Amodio said.

As many as 70 student athletes will be affected by the elimination of these sports. Four full-time and one part-time coaching position will be eliminated. All coaches will remain on contract through June 2010.

The student athletes currently participating in the affected sports who plan to complete their undergraduate education at Duquesne University will continue to receive their athletic scholarships at their current levels for a period equal to their remaining eligibility.

The athletic department will also assist athletes in these sports that choose to transfer to another institution.

“The decision follows an extended period of comprehensive research,” Amodio said. “Although it is an extremely difficult move, it will place the athletics program in the very best position to be successful in the future,” he said, adding that this will better align the programs offered with the department’s operational budget and donor base.

“The fiscal challenges facing collegiate athletic departments across the country require making difficult decisions to ensure viability,” he said. “We are committed to maintaining a financially prudent athletics program while providing our student athletes with a positive environment to achieve their academic and athletic aspirations.”

Duquesne University athletics currently serves more than 475 students with a $10.8 million operating budget.

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