[RICHMOND] The University of Richmond's board of trustees refused to reconsider its decision to drop men's soccer and men's indoor and outdoor track in favor of
a new men's lacrosse program as part of what it described as a "reconfiguration" of its athletic program. Boosters had raised $3 million in pledges in a bid to save the programs, but the board, which
met on Thursday, refused to grant a reprieve.
While the men's soccer program struggled in recent years, the Spiders were a national power in the 1990's. Indeed, college soccer was at its pinnacle in the mid-1990s when Richmond hosted the NCAA final four and drew record crowds.
The Spider track & field program had a long history of success. In 2011, the Spiders achieved the highest cumulative GPA (3.51) of all men’s track and field teams in the nation.
Here's the board statement:
"The board appreciates and has listened carefully to the views that have been expressed since the decision was announced, and knows these views are all motivated by a shared commitment to ensuring the best for the university. There have also, however, been unfortunate misunderstandings of the basis for the decision. The reasons for the decision are straightforward: without placing additional demand on crucial resources of scholarships, positions in the class, operating funds or facilities, the reconfiguration permits the university to add a popular and growing sport and strengthen its other sports. The board's candid and thoughtful discussions today confirmed our confidence that trustees received complete and accurate information and appropriately took all relevant considerations into account in making the decision in September.
"We recognize that this decision has been painful for the affected student-athletes and their families, and for the alumni and supporters of these programs. The board is certainly sympathetic and also grateful to those who stepped forward with offers of financial support for discontinued sports. The reconfiguration, however, was a strategic decision that reduces the number of sports while increasing the resources available to remaining teams. Increasing the number of sports, even with the generous philanthropy offered, would place imprudent demands on athletics and hinder the institution's ability to invest in other priorities. The university's careful stewardship of resources over many decades has helped ensure its excellence and generous financial aid, and this continued careful stewardship is all the more important in the current economic climate. The Richmond Promise clearly establishes institutional priorities for investment in the coming years to sustain and advance the university's excellence."