In October, Towson University athletic director Mike Waddell recommended that his employer cut two sports—men's baseball and soccer—for reasons related Title IX compliance and "to make the remaining programs more competitive." Days later, Towson parents flew a plane over Ravens stadium trailing a banner that read "Save Towson Baseball" and brought their homemade versions, as you can see above, to the Yankees-Orioles ALDS. In November, The Baltimore Sun wrote that many didn't buy Waddell's Title IX explanation, and believed that Waddell intended to raise the school's athletic profile by diverting money to football and basketball, two sports with nationally visible postseasons. Waddell's dual justification for the elimination of soccer and baseball had a pretty conspicuous emphasis on "elevating" the remaining programs, and indeed, a revised headcount of Towson's athletes suggested that cutting the teams could actually hinder Title IX compliance. Nevertheless, Towson cut both programs yesterday.
The players' efforts to save their teams were generally thoughtful and cultivated—administrators praised players' "effort and commitment" to maintaining their programs, and noted that one brought "several spreadsheets" to a meeting—but for whatever reason, those same administrators apparently thought that the students' frustration would boil over yesterday and turn their polite entreaties to threats or violence. When Towson president Maravene Loeschke told the baseball and soccer teams they were being cut yesterday, it was with minimal warning, only some of the athletes present, and "several" cops on hand.
Towson University president Maravene Loeschke was escorted by several police officers into a meeting with the school's baseball and men's soccer teams Friday morning to tell players she had decided to cut their sports.
Her speech to members of the teams - some could not make it because they'd been given less than an hour notice and were in class - lasted only a few minutes, players said. As they left, they noticed that the cars carrying Loeschke and other officials were surrounded by about 10 additional officers.
"That was the final insult in what has been one of the most unprofessional, least classy experiences of my life," said Matt Butler, whose son Brendan plays on the baseball team and is a former Orioles draft pick.
Loeschke repeatedly said she made the decision with great sadness. She was asked to describe how the players responded to the news.
"They were incredibly respectful," she said. "Clearly very sad, as was I. But I could not have asked for more respect from them as I was telling them this news."
On Friday, the article notes, Towson baseball players wore black tape over the university's name on their jerseys during a loss to Delaware. They'll finish out the season, but the soccer team, which last played in October, was immediately disbanded. Lest you think that the pull of TV and ticket money only affects schools widely known for athletics, the Towson saga suggests that even cupcakes have decided to put funding into the sports that have a chance to make it back, sometimes at the expense of providing a full slate of extracurriculars.
Towson President Decides To Cut Baseball, Men's Soccer [Baltimore Sun]