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Collins ‘11.5, Consiglio ’11 and Yu ’11: Save our sports

By , and
Guest Columnists
Monday, April 25, 2011

On April 21, the University released its Athletics Review Committee’s report, which outlined a variety of proposals for the Department of Athletics. The committee recommended that the wrestling, women’s skiing, and men’s and women’s fencing teams be eliminated. The 17-page report outlines the committee’s ultimate goals and recommendations, which include an increase in the overall athletics budget, a better alignment of schedules to avoid conflicts between academic and athletic programs among student-athletes, improvement and development of athletic facilities and a reduction in the number of recruited student-athletes. Although well-intentioned, the proposed plan comes at a great cost to student-athletes and the Brown community as a whole.

With regard to the athletic budget, cutting these four teams would have a minimal impact on the bottom line. Combined, these teams represent approximately two percent of the athletic department’s $13 million budget. If one of the committee’s principal concerns is the budget, then we should be seeing more substantive cuts to more programs. Even Michael Goldberger, the director of athletics, told each of our teams that according to his own calculations, 18 teams would need to be cut to bring our athletics program up to par with the most competitive Ivy League schools.

Concerning the women’s ski team’s schedule and conflicts between academic and athletic schedules, this is — as with numerous other sports — something we were fully aware of when we decided to come to Brown, and for us, something that we deem well worth the effort. Not a single member of the ski team has felt that their academic experience at Brown was diminished because we could not take classes at certain times. We have all had amazing and successful academic experiences, and our alums have gone on to very successful careers.

The University also justifies the cuts by saying that they cannot provide adequate facilities for a high-quality, competitive experience. Overall, Brown’s athletic facilities do lag behind those of comparable institutions. However, wrestling has its own facility, and skiing does not require major use of any Brown facilities. The committee’s justification only rings true for fencing: The team practices in the middle of the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center floor, and it is the only fencing program in the Ivy League that does not have a dedicated space. But Brown fencing is still a very competitive program. This past season the fencing team sent five members to the NCAA championships, placed second in the Northeast Fencing Conference and finished with a top-15 national team ranking. The fencing team was disappointed when it was excluded from the final building plans for the much-awaited fitness center. But the team would much rather work with the University to use what is available rather than get cut altogether. When looking at Brown, we knew full well the kind of facilities that were available and how they compared to other institutions, yet we still chose Brown over these other institutions. What we are left with is a group of athletes that are fully dedicated to both their sport and Brown.

We fully understand that participation in varsity athletics is a privilege. We appreciate this opportunity and owe Brown much for giving it to us, and many of us make a conscious effort to contribute to the immediate and external communities as part of our athletic participation and obligation. Members of each team serve Brown by holding leadership positions in various student organizations. Our teams also maintain an important presence in the local community by volunteering at Providence’s Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point, in addition to other projects. Athletes, like every other student group, bring diversity to campus. We come from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and want to contribute to community life in as many ways as we can. The reduction of student-athletes on campus means the reduction of a productive, diverse and integral segment of the undergraduate population.

In recent years, the Brown community has faced a variety of challenges, such as the contract negotiations with Sharpe Refectory and library union workers. In each of these cases, the University has been sensitive to their respective concerns and recognized the importance of treating these groups within the community with equity. All we ask is that President Ruth Simmons and the Corporation extend that same treatment to Brown’s students. Ultimately, to sever ties with these sports, their participants and their alums is to alienate an important part of the Brown community and to work against the purest ideals of stewardship, inclusiveness and fairness.



Hudson Collins ‘11.5 is a member of the wrestling team. Krista Consiglio ’11 is a captain of the women’s skiing team. Jonathan Yu ’11 is a captain of the men’s fencing team.

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