Cutting the men’s track and field and men’s soccer teams in order to add men’s lacrosse was not solely the athletics department’s decision, Richmond Athletic Director Jim Miller said.
“The decision was made at the Board of Trustees’ level,” he said.
The university established the committee, which had a representative from the athletics department on it, in April of 2011 that was composed of faculty and administrators from across campus, Miller said.
“[The committee] did a year-long study of what sports we should have, looking at budgets, admissions issues and everything else you could imagine,” he said. “They went through all the data, and the ultimate decision was that they wanted to add men’s lacrosse.
“In order to add a men’s sport, though, you need to add a women’s sport [due to Title IX], which would produce about 80 new athletes on campus.”
Miller said that the combination of the additional financial responsibilities two more sports would bring and the commitment to giving approximately 20 additional spots in each freshmen class to athletes had not appealed to the university.
The decision to eliminate men’s soccer and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field as intercollegiate sports was made at about 11 a.m. Friday, he said.
“The only sport that the committee looked at adding seriously was men’s lacrosse,” Miller said.
The decision to cut two sports instead of just one came from the need of the combination of resources track and field and soccer provided, he said.
“The committee also talked about that the university was not going to invest significant additional resources into our athletics and keep it where it is,” he said.
Miller broke the news in three separate meetings: first the coaches for both teams, then the men’s soccer players and finally the men’s track and field athletes.
“It was terrible,” Miller said. “Obviously, it’s more difficult for them. They worked hard. They’ve represented the school well.
“It was not pleasant, particularly for soccer because in the sport of track, we are still keeping the cross country team. Most of the track athletes are also running cross country, so they at least still have a sport to compete in, but it was not pleasant.”
Miller said he believed this would settle the mix of university sports. The last time a switch like this happened was about 10 years ago when women’s synchronized swimming was replaced by women’s golf, he said.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org