Sports cuts could be on Temple board agenda Monday

Posted: February 23, 2014

Temple University has scheduled a special meeting of the board of trustees for Monday afternoon.

While no agenda was made public, the cutting of seven varsity sports has been front and center for Temple president Neil D. Theobald, who has said the university was revisiting the cuts and looked to have a resolution by the end of February.

In December, the trustees, on Theobald's recommendation, voted to cut baseball, softball, men's indoor and spring track and field, men's gymnastics, men's crew, and women's rowing.

In a phone interview last week, Theobald said Temple was "continuing to look at the possibility of renovating space down there [at the Schuylkill] for rowing."

Theobald had said he wanted more information about the costs of rehabbing the condemned East Park Canoe House, the former home of Temple's rowing teams, which have been operating out of a tent by the river since 2008. That issue, Theobald had said, led to including the teams on the list of sports being cut.

Some of the teams on the cut list have worked to secure pledges of funding.

In a letter last week to the trustees that was also sent to the coaches of the seven sports, Theobald included an appraisal of a suggestion to give the sports five years to reach "self-sustainability."

"The fund-raising required to sustain these seven teams dwarfs the most successful athletics fund-raising performance in Temple's history," Theobald wrote. "An endowment of more than $60 million would be needed to generate the current annual operating costs of these teams, not including facilities upgrades and coaches' salaries.

"Even if we were able to endow these sports, our Athletic Department would still be woefully underfunded - 85 percent of Temple athletics programs are in the bottom third of operating budgets in the American [Athletic] Conference," not to mention the budgets of powerhouse conferences. "We cannot build and sustain a Division I athletics program if we continue to spread our resources so thinly across 24 teams."

Theobald also informed the board and coaches that the U.S. Department of Education is investigating the athletic department for possible Title IX gender-equity issues.

An Education Department spokesman said Friday that a complaint was filed Dec. 20 "alleging the University is discriminating on the basis of sex by failing to provide equal athletic opportunity for female athletes compared to male athletes, with respect to locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, housing and dining facilities and services, and in the area of athletic financial assistance."

The complaint is "currently under investigation,'' spokesman David Thomas said in an e-mail.


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