Baseball among four sports cut at Duquesne

MikeWilsonDUDuquesne University announced today that they will be cutting four men’s varsity sports including the men’s baseball team. This is the third Division 1 baseball team to be cut over the last two seasons joining Vermont and Northern Iowa. I personally find this decision a little shocking as there was no female sports cut at all and Duquesne does not have a scholarship football program. You can check out the full press release below.

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCES

PITTSBURGH – Duquesne University today announced a strategic restructuring of its varsity sports program in an effort to maximize financial resources and ensure sustained athletic success. The move will reduce the number of varsity sports from 20 to 16 and keep all related scholarship and operational funding within the athletic department.

"Focusing on and strengthening a core group of sports will maximize our ability to compete at the highest level, enhance the student athlete experience, and better utilize existing funding," said Greg Amodio, Duquesne athletic director. More than $1M will be reallocated annually throughout the athletics program as a result of the move, which will discontinue baseball, men’s swimming, men’s golf and wrestling.

"This action is in no way meant to diminish the dedication, effort or ability of these fine student athletes, coaches and alumni. They have contributed greatly to Duquesne athletics and to the vitality and history of the University," Amodio said.

As many as 70 student athletes will be affected by the elimination of these sports. Four full-time and one part-time coaching position will be eliminated. All coaches will remain on contract through June 2010.

The student athletes currently participating in the affected sports who plan to complete their undergraduate education at Duquesne University will continue to receive their athletic scholarships at their current levels for a period equal to their remaining eligibility.

The athletic department will also assist athletes in these sports that choose to transfer to another institution.

"The decision follows an extended period of comprehensive research," Amodio said. "Although it is an extremely difficult move, it will place the athletics program in the very best position to be successful in the future," he said, adding that this will better align the programs offered with the department’s operational budget and donor base.

"The fiscal challenges facing collegiate athletic departments across the country require making difficult decisions to ensure viability," he said. "We are committed to maintaining a financially prudent athletics program while providing our student athletes with a positive environment to achieve their academic and athletic aspirations."

Duquesne University athletics currently serves more than 475 students with a $10.8 million operating budget.

Q and A about decision (PDF)

  • Hal Egeland

    Through no fault of the baseball players of this D1 school, NCAA rules indicate that a player must sit out 1 year if transferring to another D1 school. What arrangements, if any, are being made to accommodate those players who wish to continue baseball by transferring to another school (D1) with the NCAA ? Are there any exceptions to this rule?

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      As is standard procedure, All players on the Dukes baseball team can transfer without penalty since the school doesn’t offer the sport anymore. Same thing happened with America East POY Matt Duffy who is now at Tenn.

      • Hal Egeland

        Thank you,
        Hopefully there are no scholarship players in the mix who wish to continue with baseball and who may not receive a comparable offer. Appreciate the quick answer. Its a shame to see major university athletic programs fold…regardless of the sport. But then again, its a $$$ game that unfortunately can not be ignored.

        • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

          I would think that Duquesne will honor the student-athletes scholarship until they graduate if they want to stay in school also.

          • Hal Egeland

            The article did indicate that scholarship commitments will be honored, but apparently without the ability to play baseball after the 2010 season. Four sports eliminated and a 10% savings on the overall budget if the information as published is accurate.

            Trying not to speak from a soap box, but how many local newspapers publish local college and university schedules for home games or events ? How many colleges and universities use public relations to encourage participation and attendance by local youth groups, high schools and families and emphasize the affordability compared to professional or minor league venues?

            Do the math. Determine the population and participants in youth leagues within a 20 or 30 minute drive and find a way to convey the affordability of attending a major university sporting event and support a local team for those who are interested in a specific sport. If attendance can be increased in increments, the 10% impact on the total budget can be reduced substantially and perhaps save these programs.

            We are in an age of making economic sense of everything. Some effort might make the difference and if Duquesne has taken these steps, my apologies, but my fear is that many more colleges and universities will find themselves in a similar situation and eliminate bit by bit the core of a diverse student body in the area of athletics.

          • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

            I would doubt that Duquesne charges for any of the four sports cut by the administration.

  • http://www.49thstatehardball.com/ jjack

    This is a bummer indeed. I hate to see baseball, especially the amateur side of the game, take a hit.

  • http://www.wrek.org Kyle Tait

    With the economy where it is at this point, and the season starting so early now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this out of more of the smaller programs over the coming months or years–particularly northern teams. Teams from up north spend so much traveling early in the season because they sure can’t play home games in the cold of mid-February (Boston College last year played 23 games away from home before finally playing in Chestnut Hill). The smaller programs like Duquesne can’t make up for it later in revenue from ticket sales or TV contracts because.. they don’t have much attendance or TV sales. It has to be a huge hit on the bottom line.

    Tough to see Duquesne go. I hope similar teams find some way to make it work. Would hate to see anyone else face a similar fate.

    Kyle Tait
    Sports Director
    WREK Atlanta

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Kyle,

    There was a ton of rumors last year that UMass was going to cut the baseball program and on the front page of the UMASS media guide was a picture of a new baseball facility they are trying to raise money for.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Interesting that Duquesne just signed a recruiting class. I would hate to be a parent of one of those kids.

    http://thecollegebaseballblog.com/2009/11/20/early-signing-day-releases-for-november-20th/#more-21440

  • http://www.pumpjacksbaseball.com Mike Lieberman

    I agree that it’s disappointing to see a college baseball program fold. The uniform start date was a move to try to level the playing field between northern and southern teams, but that gap will never be completely bridged.

    Hal, I agree with you that working to sell the program to locals and area youth programs may generate some additional revenue. However, you have to look at what Duquesne is working with:

    http://www.goduquesne.com/facilities/duqu-facil-basebl.html

    I am by no means condemning the Duquesne program or its facilities. But if an effort is going to be made to attract fans, there has to be a welcoming destination and a reason for being there. The facility appears to be a fine playing surface and has all of the necessary player amenities. But fans want food and comfort, and if kids are involved, there has to be more than just nine innings of baseball to hold their attention. (Anyone who has taken children to a baseball game knows what it’s like to keep kids in a seat for nine innings.) That realization is part of what has spawned the growth of minor league baseball over the last quarter-century, a trend that has spilled over into summer collegiate ball.

    I imagine that plays a big part in why UMass is working on getting a new facility, to change its baseball field from a functional location to a revenue-generating destination.

  • Richard

    This is another example of the discrimination men’s sports are receiving because of Title IX. No women’s sports are being cut. In fact, over the years schools cut men’s sports in order to become Title IX compliant. I think its disgraceful that in this instance no women’s sports were cut-how is this equality?

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Also, How do you cut Men’s Golf? There is maybe 12 kids on the team and only 6-8 of them play in a tourney. That is the one that always gets me.

  • Toby Ziegler

    If this really is a result of Title IX, that’s some serious BS.

    My question is do the Duquesne players realistically have enough time to catch on with another school and enroll? Or will this be a wasted season for them?

    • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

      Toby, It is far too late for the 2010 season. They have enough time but the best time that I have seen this decision made was when Providence College was cut in September of 1998 and the program ended at the end of 1999 season. Many of the players ended up transferring to better D-1 programs or at least comparable ones.

  • George Williams

    1) This was not a matter of incompetence by the four teams that got cut. I am a Duquesne graduate and this is what has always held true within the administration and athletic department: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION between the staff and its coaches. Let me make one thing very clear — no one at Duquesne University works harder than Mike Wilson (head coach of baseball). Furthermore, no one is more underappreciated than Mike Wilson for all that he does for the baseball program despite minimal support from the athletic department. Mike Wilson puts in more hours bettering his program than anyone on campus would even fathom. Yet, he is compensated with a salary of one-tenth of what Everhart gets for “re-buidling” the basketball program to another 7th place finish in the A-10 conference? These four programs had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA these discussions were even being held. The athletic department firmly believes that holding information in secrecy is the most constructive, democratic way of the decision making process. Yet, many of the autocratic decisions (like cutting four sports to improve the “CORE” sports) comes from the greed of a few inexperienced, uneducated visionaries.

    2) This is a whole new topic in itself, but I would love to sit down and analyze what is considered a CORE sport at Duquesne. If it is the university’s intention to build around the football program, then this decision is already doomed to fail. The Duquesne football program is a disaster, a joke, a fraud, and an excuse for enrollment numbers at the university. The program draws about 100 people a game and plays in a conference that is comparable to AAAA high school football programs. I can picture Rooney Field (the football field on campus) getting a multi million dollar facelift to increase attendance by 100 more people and providing a “grand stage” to see the Dukes battle Iona in a meaningless MAAC showdown. Give me a break.

    3) Leaders and decision makers always use the recession and the economy as a built in excuse to make knee-jerk decisions. These leaders view these tough times as a challenge and make uneducated hunches on what may provide a short term fix. On the other hand, successful athletic departments, companies, and transformational leaders see beyond the present and view these challenges as opportunities. How about a committee at Duquesne geared towards fundraising efforts? How about looking at some of the other costs (like charging 800 dollars an academic year to park in the garage on campus)? How about cutting back on the six figure salaries of the head men’s basketball coach and his overpaid assistants? The four programs which are being suddenly eliminated are not to blame for this incompetent decision, it is the greed and flaw vision of a consistently unpractical athletic department.

    • Realist

      It’s terrible that any sports need to be cut, however…

      When was the last time you even stepped onto the campus, George Williams? Have you read anything about the financial crunch in college athletics in the past decade? (Does Northeastern and Hofstra cutting football recently ring a bell?) Did you ever attend a Duquesne sporting event while you were a student there?

      For example, MAAC football died a few years ago. Iona no longer has a football team. While these numbers should be higher, the Duquesne football team averages around 1,300 fans for each home game. (How many fans showed up for the baseball games or the wrestling matches?)

      “Give me a break.”

      I participated in a program in college that was cut (after I left). It was called a “high cost, low yield” program. That sounds like most sports to me.

      Mourn the lost of baseball at Duquesne. It is a shame. But don’t attack another sport with your ignorant rants. We have to be thankful that more “high cost, low yield” programs have not felt the budget-cutter’s axe.

  • Barb

    A real shame is that there were 4 baseball recruits who signed letters of intent in November who now are out. If there was an extended period of research then why allow the coach to sign players. If there was even seed of an idea to cut baseball the coaches should have been told not to sign anyone. These kids are devastated

    • Hal Egeland

      I agree with you Barb. These young men along with current team members may have given up other opportunities in order to invest in their future with Duguesne and who may not now have an opportunity choose another program very easily. Baseball is a growing sport, not one that is declining. I am hopeful that those in charge will reconsider this decision and invest in improving these programs and not tearing them down. It shouldn’t be too late to take another look and find a solution to maintaining these sports at Duquesne. Which program will be next? How will Duquesne manage to continue to attract talented athletes and accomplished students in the more favored programs if such a decision prevails? As a parent, I would sure think twice!