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News Opinion

Towson soccer decision makes no sense

As a former Towson University soccer player, I've been extremely troubled by the news that Towson University Athletic Director Mike Waddell wants to cut the men's soccer and baseball teams (Sports cuts prompt a Towson U. tug of war," Nov. 6). As a graduate of the school and Baltimore resident, I am truly disgusted — especially with the way the entire process has taken place.

This "process" has been shady since the very beginning.

Starting last March, Mr. Waddell sat the soccer alumni in a room and said that he doesn't want to cut the program but he needs financial support from the alumni. During that meeting, Mr. Waddell told us of his grand plans of what the new soccer stadium would look like, how we'd finally have lights so alumni can attend games during the week and how he was at the University of Akron when their soccer team was good so he has a soft spot for soccer in college sports.

The soccer alumni acted immediately and raised the most money for the alumni challenge, earning second place only because a higher percentage of swimming and diving alumni donated (they didn't raise as much money, they just have fewer alumni). I should have known something then especially when I received a thank-you letter from Towson University for donating my money to the "Football Enhancement Fund" and not men's soccer as I had designated.

When Mr. Waddell announced his vision at the beginning of October, he said that he came to his decision after 18 months of research and thinking. I find it shocking that alumni, parents and students could figure out in the past month that his plans had several key errors (and I'm not even talking about what soccer means to the school and community).

First, the task force was tainted. Four of the members recommending the final decision were on the original committee with Mr. Waddell that made the recommendation to cut soccer and baseball. How can they be unbiased when they clearly already made their decision a month ago?

Second, there was false Title IX information. Mr. Waddell was basing his title IX decision on wrong numbers. His calculations failed to count the women's indoor and outdoor track teams as separate teams. Personally, I'm not sure which is worse, that he may have lied to use numbers that made his decision look better or that he's inept enough to not know that the women's indoor and outdoor track teams count as separate teams.

Third is the matter of competitiveness. Towson soccer is very competitive nationally. When I finished, we were ranked No. 15 in the country. Before and after my time at Towson, soccer teams have been ranked nationally or they continuously hang tough with other top teams.

Meanwhile, with a team grade point average of 3.29, the Towson men's soccer received the prestigious National Soccer Coaches Association of America College Team Academic Award 2011-12 for the third consecutive year. What's more competitive than true student athletes?

Fourth, the fact that soccer and baseball make up of barely 2 percent of the entire athletics budget strongly suggests spending has been grossly mismanaged when the only solution is to cut two sports but leave untouched 98 percent of the budget.

Lastly, I wonder what the true goal of making these changes is. It's obliviously not about making Towson Title IX compliant when only small changes are needed. It's not about competitiveness when we've won both on and off the field. It's not about finances when 98 percent of the budget is approved and 2 percent is the "problem."

Perhaps we can figure out what this is all about when we watch Mr. Waddell on "60 Minutes" this Sunday. I'm sure we'll hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth instead of more political noise. Then again, I'm not completely sure Mr. Waddell will care when he's finished using Towson as a personal public relations hype machine and has moved on to a university that has the sports teams that he loves. I can only hope that the decision will be made for the vision of Towson University and not the vision of one man.

Sean Cunningham

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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