Western Kentucky drops men's soccer

Paul Kennedy examines the move
Last Friday is a day the members of Western Kentucky University's men's soccer program won't soon forget.

Assembled in the weight room for their regularly schedule workout, they were told by Coach David Holmes that Western Kentucky President Gary Ransdell and Athletic Director Wood Selig wanted to meet with them immediately.

Holmes' players were then blindsided with the news that their soccer careers at WKU were over. The school became the latest to drop men's soccer.

Western Kentucky, which recently completed a $32.5 million renovation of its basketball arena, said it faced current and future budget reductions from the state government and didn't have the money to support men's soccer, which was launched in 1982. (Holmes came to the Hill in 1984.)

But the move to drop men's soccer is not exactly a surprise.

Indeed, WKU men's soccer had warning signs supporters of other programs should consider.

First, the school was faced with committing additional resources to its football program. The Hilltoppers are moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision and will become a full-fledged member of the Sun Belt in 2009.

Second, Western Kentucky had little in-state competition. Of Kentucky's six Division I programs, only the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville now sponsor men's soccer.

The Sun Belt, in which Western Kentucky competes, hasn't sponsored men's soccer in recent years. Only three of its 13 members offer men's soccer. WKU is the sixth Sun Belt member to drop the sport. (Selig cited WKU's desire to compete successfully in the Sun Belt in its other sports as a reason dropping its lone non-Sun Belt program.)

Another Sun Belt member, FIU, has been rumored to have its men's soccer program on the chopping block.

WKU competed in the Missouri Valley in men's soccer. Its decision leaves the MVC with only six teams in men's soccer -- the minimum to receive an NCAA automatic berth.

Those interested in commenting on the Western Kentucky situation, can contact:

Wood Selig, Athletics Director
Gary Ransdell, President

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