William & Mary faculty pushing for reinstatement of eliminated sports, new strategic plan

William & Mary faculty members will continue their push for reinstatement of seven varsity sports proposed recently for elimination in a resolution to be introduced at a Faculty Assembly meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Suzanne C. Hagedorn, an associate professor of English at W&M said that she, Business professor Katherine Guthrie and Law professor Tom McSweeney have drafted a set of motions in consultation with other faculty that at least two FA members plan to put on the floor for discussion and debate.

The resolution calls for W&M President Katherine Rowe and the W&M Board of Visitors “to appoint a new Athletics Task Force in consultation with Faculty Assembly with significant representation of W&M faculty, staff, students, and the local community to create a new strategic plan for W&M Athletics.”

The resolution further addresses the rationale, process and lack of transparency some have complained about in the decision to cut the seven sports.

It reads: “We call upon the administration to suspend the 2019 strategic planning document, which was created without significant input from W&M faculty and students.  We further recommend that this new planning process take place without the assistance or involvement of external consulting firms.”

It further recommends that W&M immediately reinstate the seven sports slated for elimination – men’s and women’s gymnastics and swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track, and women’s volleyball – “pending further review and consideration by the new Athletics Task Force.”

Hagedorn, last week, organized a vote of “no-confidence” to be taken at the College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Assembly regarding Director of Athletics Samantha Huge and her role in elimination of the sports, including a letter announcing it that was similar to Stanford’s announcement of its cuts in July. However, about a half-hour before that meeting, W&M announced Huge’s departure after 3 1/4 u00bd years on the job.

Jeremy Martin, Rowe’s Chief of Staff, was named the interim director of athletics on October 6 and, two days later in a 30-minute video outlined the huge structural financial deficits facing the athletic department. While stating he would be meeting with people from the seven affected teams, Martin made it clear that any possibility of reinstatement would include their contributing to long-term budget stability.

Those drafting the resolution for the full Faculty Assembly meeting Tuesday indicated they want those seven sports to be reinstated and included with the other 16 sports as part of a full athletic department solution to the budget problems. Deficits are projected at $2.87 million for this year and at least $3.2 million each of the next three years as donations from the Tribe Club – W&M athletics’ fund-raising arm – have decreased significantly the past five years.

As such, the proposal drafted by Hagedorn, Guthrie and McSweeney asks that no sport, including the seven set for elimination at the end of the 2021-22 academic year, “bear any special or heightened burden of justifying its continued existence as a varsity sport” at W&M.

Hagedorn said she does not know if the proposal will come up for a vote at the public Faculty Assembly meeting today, and that it could happen at a meeting next week.

“I really hope they don’t do that because I think there’s a time issue here,” she said. “There are deadlines for many students (in the sports affected by elimination) who want to see about letters of intent and such with other schools.

“They feel like they (need) some sense of maybe whether these sports will be revived by (sometime in November). There is a reason why some of student-athletes and teams that have been canceled would like to receive word from administration as soon as possible.

“The motion doesn’t do anything permanently. It says, let’s start from scratch, throw out the strategic plan that was made in 2019 based on the Pictor Report that many have become skeptical about, and start all over again.

“Redo the strategic plan, and just because something was cut before, that doesn’t make it more likely to be cut in the future.”

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