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Sifting through the smokescreen of administrative “bull”

As wrestling fans, we’ve seen it with Fresno State, Eastern Illinois, James Madison and Oregon. There’s more schools to add to the list with wrestling programs cut, but when administrations are questioned, it’s enough political spin-doctoring to make Bill O’Reilly say “What the…?”

We’ve read through the misinformation offered by Athletics Directors, analysis, consultants and university presidents about athletic cuts, usually to men’s Olympic sports. We’ve heard backers from other sports within the school basically say “who cares” when it comes to sports not named football or basketball.

When JMU, a school I nearly attended, eliminated 10 sports officially, fans on the basically cast their fellow students, classmates and future alumni aside, citing the sports which were cut were of no interest to them. I argued, often in the face of staunch JMU students and alums, everyone who represents JMU should be treated the same, no matter if you’re a fencer, archer or backup punter. An apathetic student body cares not about anything other than what they are interested in, showing no room for expanding their own horizons with new sports and new friends.

That was an battle that got ugly, primarily because of my closeness to the school, being a member of the CAA and having spent many a great weekend in Harrisonburg.

Now take the case of Rutgers, which spared wrestling from the axe in 2006, but other sports took the hit. What followed? Alleged budget numbers which never saw the light of day and scapegoating. Oh, then there was a fact sheet issued about how successful Rutgers’ programs were., which I linked to with the InterMat blog during the Arizona State debacle, has re-printed the Coalition to Save Our Sports response to the school’s chest beating. Read it here.

Now, when all of this stuff went down with JMU, reclassifying to “club” status seemed to be what most supporters of the cuts pointed to as “opportunity.” This excerpt from the Coalition response makes the most sense for those who don’t know what it’s like to lose a varsity opportunity.


Club status is for recreational athletes, many of whom are novices. It offers informal and infrequent opportunities for training and competition at a level totally different from NCAA Division I competitions. Club status does not confer athletic scholarships, and although the Olympic sports program receives a meager scholarship allotment compared to the spectator sports, athletic scholarships have encouraged and/or enabled some of our top Olympic sport athletes to attend Rutgers. The simple and unassailable fact is that top athletes do not matriculate at a school to be part of a club or recreational program.

Food for thought. The Coalition folks are using something most Title IX reparationists and budget-hackers don’t use — common sense.

Written by Jason Bryant

August 27, 2008 at 1:20 pm