OT: Tulane athletics takes post-Katrina hit

Tulane will sponsor programs in eight sports — baseball, football, men and women’s basketball, volleyball, and women’s indoor and outdoor track and cross country. Gone are men and women’s golf, women’s soccer, men and women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving. :unhappy:

[B]Statement from Rick Dickson, Director of Athletics[/B]
December 8, 2005

"Today, I will face more than 100 of the best ambassadors this university has, and tell them that there are no longer opportunities for them as student-athletes at Tulane University. I will inform dedicated and successful coaches that this university can no longer sponsor their programs. Their athletic careers at Tulane are victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"Fortunately, six of our core programs will go forward.

Nonetheless, today is a day of great loss. As far as I am concerned, no student-athlete is any more important than any other. Since my arrival here almost six years ago, my philosophy has been that every student-athlete who wears the Tulane uniform is treated equally. That’s why this day is so difficult.

"The accomplishments of this group speak for themselves - four of these teams won Conference USA Championships last year and two finished in the Top 16 in the country. Over the last four years, they have brought home 10 league championships. Academically, we are talking about our top students. They are the standard-bearers!

"Today’s decisions were difficult ones for the leadership of the university. Over the past three months, I have seen that the issues we face in athletics are miniscule compared to the problems facing our city, our state and the university as a whole. Athletics is a small piece of a very large puzzle.

“But today, that’s little comfort to the 100 young men and women whose worlds have been turned upside down.”

University will be Academically Stronger, More Focused and Financially Secure

NEW ORLEANS, December 8 – Tulane University’s Board of Administrators today approved a sweeping plan that strengthens and focuses the university’s academic mission while strategically addressing its current and future operations in the post-Katrina era.

The plan will achieve two major goals for the university at a pivotal moment in its history: strengthening its commitment to building a world-class educational and research institution, and implementing measures to ensure the university’s financial stability.

“Tulane University, now more than ever, is a powerful and positive force as New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region begin the monumental task of recovery,” said Tulane President Scott S. Cowen. “We are determined to find opportunity in the face of adversity. Tulane will do more than just survive; we will thrive and continue our role as a beacon of learning and research for the region and nation, as well as a dynamic engine of growth and change for New Orleans and its citizens.”

Tulane’s Board, led by its chair Catherine D. Pierson, pledged its unanimous support of the plan.

“As a board, as supporters of our great city and as stewards of the 172-year history of Tulane, we feel confident that our renewal plan will ensure Tulane’s continued ascent into the top tier of American universities while addressing Tulane University’s financial needs,” Pierson said.

The plan addresses the financial challenges created by Katrina, including $200 million in recovery costs this year and a significant projected budget shortfall for next year.

Under the plan, Tulane is making a strong commitment to enhance the value of the undergraduate collegiate experience by making it more campus- and student-centric. The undergraduate program will be at the core of the renewed Tulane; in recognition of this the university will establish a new Undergraduate College that will replace the current coordinate college system for arts and sciences. All incoming Tulane students, regardless of their field of interest, will enter the university through this unified Undergraduate College. This new college will serve as a coordinating mechanism for all aspects of the undergraduate experience. It will also help to simplify the undergraduate academic organization and consolidate administrative functions.

Other details of the plan:

• Tulane will significantly increase its commitment to the growth and development of urban communities by creating The Partnership for the Transformation of Urban Communities.

• The university will focus its undergraduate, professional and doctoral programs and research in areas where it has attained, or has the potential to achieve, world-class excellence. It will suspend admission to those programs that do not meet these criteria.

• The School of Medicine’s educational program will return to New Orleans in the fall of 2006. The university’s medical enterprise will be refocused with added emphasis on the research and educational programs that will position it among the top NIH-funded institutions in the country. The size of the medical school’s faculty will be reduced in response to the changing population and health care environment in New Orleans.

• [B][COLOR=Blue]Tulane will continue to participate in Division I intercollegiate athletics, but with a reduced number of programs. Green Wave athletics will sponsor six programs that will compete in eight sports—football, baseball, men and women’s basketball, volleyball, and women’s indoor and outdoor track and cross country. The NCAA president and staff have assured the university that it will be able to secure the waivers needed to continue to compete as a Division I program.[/COLOR][/B]

The financial recovery aspects of the renewal plan address the budget shortfall the university anticipates in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and will result in the phased elimination of approximately 50 faculty positions in discontinued undergraduate and professional degree programs. Another 180 faculty positions will be eliminated at the medical school as a result of the decreased population and changing health care needs of New Orleans.

“I deeply regret that employee reductions were necessary to secure the university’s future,” said Cowen. “We have tried to make the reductions as strategically and humanely as possible, recognizing the hardship it places on those whose positions have been terminated.”

The plan approved today was developed with input from a blue ribbon group of internal and external advisors and experts, including the Board of Tulane, the President’s Faculty Advisory Committee and top administrators from several of the nation’s top academic institutions and educational foundations.

Hurricanes suck.

Damn. Thats pretty serious right there. I wonder if the students will have their schollies honored or if the NCAA will make some leeway for transfering student athletes. wowzers.

That is really unfortunate. Saw a piece on Tulane on the news this evening that mentioned over 100 teachers losing thier jobs as well. The school is rebuilding out of money from its own budget and cuts are being made all over as evidenced by decreasing salaries and sports cuts. One new course that is being added is a requirement of all students to participate in community service for a certain amount of hours. The president mentioned that 80% of the displaced students at other colleges have registered for spring semester.

The financial recovery aspects of the renewal plan address the budget shortfall the university anticipates in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and will result in the phased elimination of [B]approximately 50 facul[/B]ty positions in discontinued undergraduate and professional degree programs. [B]Another 180 faculty positions will be eliminated[/B] at the medical school as a result of the decreased population and changing health care needs of New Orleans.

clt asks how they can cut the newly world class swim team?

[B]Eight Sports Suspended, NCAA’s five-year waiver lets Wave stay in Conference USA[/B]
[I]Friday, December 09, 2005
By Benjamin Hochman, Staff Writer, New Orleans Times-Picayune[/I]

Tulane has suspended eight sports teams Thursday in the sobering aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an unprecedented move forced by an unstable financial climate. The school is hoping the new plan will save approximately $2 million annually in operational costs.

But, the athletic program will keep eight other teams, including football, deemed a triumphant accomplishment considering all sports were once considered expendable.

The NCAA, in coordination with Conference USA, has granted Tulane a five-year waiver to compete in Division I-A without the minimum 16 teams, also an unprecedented move.

Approximately 98 student-athletes and 11 coaches are impacted by the suspension of men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, men’s track and field and men’s cross country, beginning in the fall of 2006.

“I faced more than 100 of the best ambassadors this university has and told them there are no longer opportunities for them at Tulane University,” said Athletic Director Rick Dickson, who met with the majority of the athletes. “Their athletic careers at Tulane are victims of Hurricane Katrina. . . . It breaks your heart.”

In addition to football, Tulane will retain baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s indoor and outdoor track and women’s cross country.

The announcement came after two days of meetings by Tulane’s board of trustees and numerous meetings by the board’s athletic committee – chaired by Tulane alum Doug Hertz – that analyzed all the facets of the financially strapped athletic program.

According to Yvette Jones, Tulane’s senior vice president for external affairs, Tulane athletics had an operating expense budget near $12.5 million per year before Katrina, which included room and board but not scholarships. The department planned to receive $8.5 million in revenue but now it is predicting about $4 million, depending on conference payouts and ensuing attendance figures in winter and spring sports.

“In the new plan, there are savings from the programs operations and room and board,” Jones said. "And there are some new revenues – the conference has done its adjustment for what the payout will be for next year and beyond, and that’s added about $900,000 to operations.

“And, we’ve also booked a couple of guaranteed football games (in the coming seasons). We have LSU, Auburn and Alabama. Those games provide a nice amount of revenue. It’s the combination of the two that have closed the gap down to about $2 million.”

But, just like business decisions made at organizations across the Gulf Coast, there are human factors behind every statistic.

“Obviously, to do what’s best for the school and city, it was necessary to makes cuts,” Tulane tennis player Julie Smekodub said. “And, sports wasn’t even the biggest issue. But the fact that we don’t have a chance to be the torch and play, it takes a piece from inside of you, from you heart. You can’t play for the school that you love. . . . At our meetings, everyone was in tears.”

All of the student-athletes on suspended teams are allowed to remain Tulane students – and keep their scholarships – if they desire. Or, they can transfer to another university.

“It is difficult to deal with that on a personal level. Our student athletes are remarkable young people,” Tulane president Scott Cowen said. “Because they truly are student-athletes. That’s one of the reasons why were allowing all student-athletes to keep their scholarships. We want you here because you’re the kind of student we wanted all along. But, if you feel you want to compete somewhere else, we’ll assist you in that process.”

Tulane’s intent is to field seven of the suspended eight teams beginning in January – women’s soccer completed its season in the fall. But, the realization is that many student-athletes probably will transfer. The question is, will they transfer soon, or wait until the summer? For athletes who transfer this upcoming semester, the only way they can compete this spring is if Tulane doesn’t field a team in the same sport. The problem with that is Tulane teams won’t know if they have enough athletes until early 2006.

The NCAA has waived Title IX requirements for Tulane during the five-year period. But, the six programs remaining (women’s indoor track, outdoor track and cross country make one program) still bear a resemblance to the goal of gender equity. The Green Wave will have three men’s sports teams and five women’s teams.

Tulane is putting an emphasis on “suspension” of the other eight programs, with hope that within the five years, some of the programs will be revived.

“Right now, it’s a little premature,” Cowen said. “We’re going to monitor very carefully the recovery of New Orleans and our university. What we’ve done, by retaining the core of Division I, we’ve got all options open, and that’s the beauty of it. . . . We’ll know a lot more in two or three years – I don’t think it will be the five-year mark.”

“What’s unfortunate,” Hertz said, "is (our student-athletes) have been a model for what Tulane is all about – having student-athletes be able to compete successfully on the field or court, and then do very well academically. That’s what pains the board and everybody else. They are in non-revenue producing sports.

"Our hope is – where we have great facilities, like our tennis facility, that at some point, when the school gets back on its financial feet – that’s why we’re using the word ‘suspended.’ "

“The bottom line is we don’t sell tickets,” said Tom Shaw, the men’s golf coach. “It’s a dollars and cents thing.”

When the committee first met on November 5, there was a lingering uncertainty in the Tulane athletic community. Football players, displaced at Louisiana Tech, whispered about possible expulsion of their program. Coaches were even contacted by recruiters from other teams, inquiring about top players.

The committee members themselves were skeptical about the athletic program’s financial strength. There were already symbols of gloom: the athletic department laid off 15 workers, suffered an estimated $2 million of damages to its Wilson Center offices and experienced “significant” financial setbacks from football ticket sales, according to Dickson.

“Was ever consideration given to eliminating Division I competition? Absolutely,” Hertz said. “But, I don’t think it was a matter of how close (we were to elimination), I think it was a matter of trying to figure out what we could do that wouldn’t become a financial burden of the university – when we’re having to make so many other difficult choices with academics.”

Football, with its high costs and large roster (87 players), had a costly role in the athletic program. But, Hertz asserted, “if it wasn’t for football and the conference payout (from its television contract), we wouldn’t be able to support all the other sports that we historically have been able to support. I think football sort of takes a bad rap because you have 80-plus scholarships, and it’s an expensive sport to compete in. But also, the majority of the revenue, without football, would go away.”

In 2003, when the athletic program was losing millions, skeptics still pointed at the football program during heated university debates. After much consternation, the board kept sports in Division I-A, on the condition that Dickson spearheaded a major fundraising campaign.

“Through last year, Rick Dickson had done a tremendous job, and we were making progress to the board-approved plan,” said Hertz, also an athletics committee member in 2003. “That being said, we still were operating at a deficit and a significant-enough deficit where, had we not received this flexibility (from the NCAA post-Katrina), it just wouldn’t have been right to move forward with the whole 16-sport program.”

“The way sports are constructed now,” Cowen said, “if we’re going to be able to handle this financially, you have to keep the major sports. And football’s one of them.”

With the NCAA’s blessing, Tulane’s board was determined to keep its football program. Though other sports are important torch-bearers – baseball, for instance, played in the College World Series this year – football is the national face of the athletic program. That was true even before the storm.

“Clearly the football team, despite its (2-9) record, has been sort of heroes to all of us – the board, the students and alumni,” Hertz said on Thursday, the same day the Green Wave received a national spirit award from Disney. “As have all the sports that competed in the fall. They carried the banner of Tulane when Tulane wasn’t in session. It’s hard to put a number on that.”

Cowen glowed about Tulane’s role in a new New Orleans. He expects Tulane athletics to provide inspiration to the beleaguered community. Without professional sports in town, he hopes sports fans will show up for Green Wave games. He said he was proud that Tulane will host the first college sporting even in the city post-hurricane – the Dec. 18th women’s basketball game at Fogelman Arena.

But, come fall, the soccer field lights will be off on Friday nights. The stands at the tennis center, home of the reigning men’s and women’s C-USA champs, will be vacant. The halls at the Wilson Center will be eerily empty, just like the city, just like the athletic program.

The Ncaa always waives the 1-year sit-out rule when your sport no longer exists at your school.
If I were a student elsewhere, I hate to say this, but I wouldn’t come back.
Five years to get back to 16 sports? I don’t think it’s enough. I think it might take 12-15 years for Tulane to get back to 16. I’d hate for the school to go under at all, or the sports to go below DI-A in 5 years.

[QUOTE=stonecoldken;143514]Hurricanes suck.[/QUOTE]

They are much worse when your city is below sea level.