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Franchot goes too far

College BaseballColleges and UniversitiesTowson UniversityExecutive BranchUniversity of Maryland, College Park

By no means do we consider the imbroglio over the decision to cut the baseball and men's soccer teams to be Towson University President Maravene Loeschke's finest moment. The announcement was not handled well, and there are real questions about the basis for the decision to eliminate the teams. But Comptroller Peter Franchot's call for her to resign over the matter is simply absurd.

Mr. Franchot raised the issue of the eliminated teams at a Board of Public Works meeting a month ago, and Gov. Martin O'Malley, who hadn't previously been familiar with the matter, joined him in expressing concern. The two of them delayed action on an unrelated — and entirely worthy — contract to facilitate the construction of a Towson satellite campus in Harford County so that Ms. Loeschke could come to Annapolis to answer questions about the teams before the board.

That was curious; no one called for University of Maryland President Wallace Loh to come to Annapolis when he cut several teams over financial issues in the College Park athletic department. More curious was the governor's decision, after meeting with Ms. Loeschke, to include funding in a supplemental budget to help keep the baseball team alive. That goes against a long tradition of keeping funding for athletics separate from taxpayer dollars. The legislature subsequently refined the plan to make it a matching program for any team at risk of elimination because of Title IX concerns.

Despite the evident resolution of the situation, and despite the fact that he had met with her privately, Mr. Franchot was miffed that Ms. Loeschke did not appear at Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting. "When you can't come out in the light of day and defend your decisions and respond to some of the questions that were raised, it just causes real skepticism as to what's going on."

Mr. Franchot decried a culture that turns universities into "sports factories," but it is a problem he is only furthering by suggesting that Towson's president resign over a matter of two sports teams, no matter how badly it was handled. Ms. Loeschke's primary responsibility is to foster the state's goal of increasing the educational attainment of its residents. If Mr. Franchot has some evidence that she is failing at that mission in some way, he should say so. Otherwise, he should apologize.

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