Local soccer coaches react to Towson's decision to cut sports

After recommending during the fall that men's soccer and baseball be dropped from the school's athletic program, Towson University officially followed through with the decision Friday.

Athletic director Mike Waddell made the initial recommendation and school president Maravene Loeschke announced the programs would be terminated.

The decision was not met with happy feelings, especially in Carroll. Manchester Valley boys soccer coach Todd Hicks and Winters Mill's boys coach Andy Hicks both played collegiate soccer at Towson.

Todd Hicks was a member of the latest Towson Hall of Fame class, and both had successful careers with the Tigers.

"I'm deeply saddened that a 90-year program was cut by a second-year AD and first-year president," said Todd Hicks who played there from 1992-95. "I ran into my former coach and some others, and it's just a surreal feeling."

Dropping both programs means two coaches who have spent a combined 57 years coaching at Towson will no longer be on their benches.

Mike Gottlieb, the baseball coach, has spent 26 years at the school and men's soccer coach Frank Olszwewski has spent 31 years at the institution. The Towson baseball team reportedly put black tape over the school's name in a game against Delaware last weekend.

"I'm just disgusted with the whole administration," said Andy Hicks who played there from 1998-2002. "Those two coaches have been there over 50 years and I think they are going to lose a lot of alumni support over this decision."

Citing long-term financial stability and affordability, compliance with federal Title IX requirements and the ability to be competitive, Loeschke told the players on Friday about the University's decision.

The Hicks brothers echoed the sentiment that Towson's move hurts the local and high school soccer communities as well.

"It's kind of ridiculous to think about," Todd Hicks said. "It gives kids in the greater Baltimore area one less opportunity to play Division I."

Added Andy Hicks: "Baltimore is a good soccer area. This is really going to affect the local soccer players in a bad way."

Notable program alums are Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz, who played both sports, and Seattle Mariners outfielder Casper Wells, who played baseball.

Perhaps the most famous alum, Schuerholz, was a driving force behind getting the new stadium built in 2001 and provided the lead gift, according to Towson's athletic website.

The complex, which is named John B. Schuerholz Park, was dedicated on April 29, 2001, in honor of the three-sport star at Towson.

Although the programs could be restarted in the future - men's tennis was reinstated this time around - the current future looks bleak.

"This won't be the last you hear from the soccer program," Andy Hicks said. "I think with so many angry alumni, there is something to be said for soccer at Towson."