What Happened: University of Richmond students, faculty, administrators, alumni and parents packed the Ukrop Auditorium Sunday afternoon to discuss, in a public forum, the Board of Trustees’ decision to cut men’s soccer and men’s track and field to add men’s lacrosse. The speakers, in order, were men’s track and field member Patrick Love (junior), women’s track and field member Alyson McGonigle (junior), men’s track and field alumni class of 2008 Michael Stubbs, men’s soccer player Chris Grover (senior), men’s soccer player Chris Hoerner (junior) and University President Edward Ayers. One by one, each made their way to the microphone on stage in the front of the room (with the exception of Grover who elected to speak without the mic) and gave his or her views of the situation. After Ayers was done speaking, he fielded questions from the audience. This process, at times, turned hostile, with Ayers getting harassed by audience members.
Main Takeaways: The big takeaway is that Ayers flatly said that this decision was and would remain final, and that there would be no future discussion about this matter following the forum. Also significant was the coming forward of a few members of the task force that conducted the sports mix study that led to the ultimate decision made by the Board of Trustees. Rick Mayes, political science professor, identified himself as a member and Jennifer Cable, music professor, was also identified, but she was not present. They were the two faculty members represented on the 11-person committee. Lori Schuyler, chief of staff, didn’t identify herself as a member of the committee outright, but she fielded a question asking whether the full study would be released. She said that some of the study would be made public, but other parts needed to remain confidential. CORRECTION: Athletics Director Jim Miller was present.
Other observations: The track and field program appeared to be more involved in the planning of this forum than the soccer program did, and they got their points across more clearly. Almost all the questions directed at Ayers following his speech were talking specifically about the decision to cut men’s track. They also had more speakers than the men’s soccer team and appeared better represented in the audience with the women’s track and field team and countless track alumni present. Many questions went unanswered by Ayers due to time constraints and audience members that did get their questions answered were rarely satisfied with his response, but Ayers stayed after to talk further with media and other audience members, and white note cards were handed out before the beginning of the forum for audience members to write down questions for Ayers for which he will email responses.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org