University News

Simmons: No teams to be cut for next year

By
Senior Staff Writer
Saturday, April 30, 2011

The men’s and women’s fencing teams, men’s wrestling team and women’s ski team will be allowed to compete through next academic year, wrote President Ruth Simmons in an email to the Brown community Friday afternoon. Simmons’ recommendations to the Corporation about potential cuts of varsity teams will be postponed until the fall.

Simmons will still recommend to the Corporation in May that the University make changes to its athletics program this fall by reserving fewer spots for recruited athletes, creating a plan to increase athletics staff and coaching salaries, improving financial aid for all students and fundraising for the athletics department’s “most urgent additional needs,” she wrote in her email.

The Athletics Review Committee recommended cutting four teams to reallocate financial support for athletics in a report released last week. The three programs were selected based on infrastructure, salary and travel costs and other considerations such as gender equity. The committee met with students, faculty and alums this week to discuss their concerns about the cuts.

Simmons decided to submit her recommendation about team cuts to the Corporation in October instead of at its May meeting due to concerns about the timing of the decision.

“One observation that has been made repeatedly is that the time-frame for consideration and implementation of the discontinuation of specific sports is too brief,” Simmons wrote. “This is especially troubling for some because of where we are in the semester, when students are focused on final projects and exams.”

The committee first discussed the possibility of postponement Thursday and submitted a memo to Simmons Friday morning, wrote committee Chair Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president, in an email to The Herald.

While it would be “unfair and unproductive” to make a decision now, it would still be “harmful to the program to maintain 37 teams with the current level of resources,” Spies wrote in the memo to Simmons.

But it would be “premature to even speculate” whether the postponement might affect Simmons’ recommendation, Spies wrote in his email to The Herald. “The whole idea is that there needs to be time for all of us to think about the issues and discuss the recommendations before anyone makes up his or her mind,” he wrote.

The committee will submit a final report within three weeks, according to the memo.

All four teams will continue to let the president and committee know that cutting teams would be “a mistake,” said Dave Amato, head coach of the wrestling team.

“We’re fighters — we’re optimistic,” Amato said. “We’re going to stay positive. We’re going to look like this gave us a reprieve.”

Amato said he called the wrestling team’s incoming recruits, all of whom have already committed to matriculate. “It would be hard for them to go somewhere that’s an equal academic institution,” he said.

Wrestler Beau Martino ’13 said the team plans to use the postponement to fundraise and demonstrate to the committee and president that cutting the team would be “detrimental.”

“We belong here on this campus. We add to the environment,” Martino said.

Fencing alums are also working hard to “have a well-defined plan” to present in the fall that would specifically address the committee’s concerns about infrastructure and facilities, said Alex DePaoli ’11, one of three fencing captains and a Herald photographer. Though DePaoli will graduate this spring, he said he plans to continue helping the team next year.

“Everyone wants to keep fencing at Brown,” DePaoli said. “For the recruits coming in, this is great – it means they’re going to fence for at least a year. For our attempts to recruit (next year), given that we might not even exist, I don’t know what the implications would be.”

But the postponement is “just a postponement – it’s not a decision,” said Krista Consiglio ’11, captain of the women’s ski team. “It just gives us that much more time to prepare ourselves.”

Theski team plans to continue collecting data to present to the committee. They will also fundraise to achieve a self-sustaining endowment, Consiglio said. Next year, the team will move to a more competitive league. The postponement is “an opportunity to prove to the University, the Athletics Review Committee and the Corporation just how good our team is,” she said.

“Everyone kind of feels happy that they’re going to have another year, but I think everyone realizes that we still have a long road to go,” Consiglio said.