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University News

Gov. Chafee ’75 comes to campus to support wrestling team

Sports Editor
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 and other alums, as well as players and coaches of the four varsity teams that were suggested for elimination by the Athletics Review Committee, met with committee members yesterday to pitch their teams’ cases for survival.

Chafee, a former captain of the men’s wrestling team, spoke about the value of the sport to his collegiate experience, said Robert Hill ’88, a former wrestler and current co-president of Friends of Brown Wrestling.

“(Chafee) was there to be an advocate for Brown wrestling,” said Hudson Collins ‘11.5, a student representative of the wrestling team present at the meeting. “He’s willing to take time out of his busy schedule to come speak not only about the importance of preserving the Brown wrestling program but also the other teams in general.”

The four teams that last week’s committee report recommended eliminating — men’s and women’s fencing, wrestling and women’s skiing — were each allocated an hour to meet with committee members. Seven committee members were in attendance, including committee chair Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president, and Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger.

Representatives from each team came prepared with support documents and financial data intended to counter the explanations for the cuts outlined in the committee’s report.

“I think a lot of our points resonated with the members,” Collins said. He said the arguments brought before the committee were a result of “collaboration between current wrestlers, coaches and a very strong alumni base.”

Hill said current team members and alums — three of whom traveled from other states to attend yesterday’s meeting — have been “developing talking points and establishing and re-establishing our position” since the committee’s proposal was released last Thursday.

“We each spoke individually about wrestling and the Brown experience and our opinion that wrestling and the other sports are very important to Brown in terms of diversity and opportunity and academics,” Hill said.

Professor of Biology Ken Miller ’70 P’02 also attended the wrestling meeting, and he spoke as an “advocate for student-athletes in general,” Collins said.

At the meeting on women’s skiing, representatives for the women’s varsity ski team and men’s club ski team — both of which are recommended to be cut — presented “facts (the committee members) previously didn’t know,” including details about the varsity team’s training and traveling schedules, said Krista Consiglio ’11, captain of the women’s ski team.

Though the report specifically noted concerns about the safety of ski team members traveling to New Hampshire and western Massachusetts for practices and competitions, Consiglio said after doing the calculations, the team found it travels less than other varsity teams.

Consiglio said she came out of the meeting satisfied. “We thought it was a positive experience, and we think that we educated them about Brown skiing and how great of a group we are,” she said.

Caitlin Taylor ’13, a representative for the fencing squads, said her meeting also went well. “We outlined counter-arguments for everything they had in their review,” she said. “We presented personal stories to make them realize that we’re real humans and provided them with a set of solutions.”

The proposed solution includes forming an endowment funded by alums and parents, which would “secure the future of Brown fencing for the next five years,” Taylor said.

“The parent who presented on behalf of the adults of our committee outlined a five-year financial plan and just explained in detail about what our options are in terms of venue and coaching staff and how much it would cost,” Taylor said. “We’re able to raise the money in the time given.”

Taylor’s teammate Andrew Pintea ’12 said he and his teammates addressed the evaluative criteria — which include categories such as history, competitiveness, cost and gender equity — that the committee used in its decision-making process at the meeting.

But Pintea also expressed doubts about the effect the hour-long conversation will have on the ultimate decision. “I think the meeting went as well as it could have, but I know as much as I did before about how much (committee members) are going to take out of this,” he said.

Members of the athletics committee could not be reached for comment.

Taylor said she thought this meeting was only the start of conversations between administrators and the team members committed to saving their sport. “I definitely feel better having been able to speak to (committee members) on a very intimate level,” she said. “But the fight’s not over.”

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