St Cloud State Athletes Deal with Changing Landscape

Photo Courtesy of St. Cloud State Athletics

Denver faces St. Cloud State University in hockey this upcoming weekend at Magness Arena. Back in St. Cloud, the shock waves sent by Athletics recent decision to drop Football and golf (and add men’s soccer) are still reverberating across the Minnesota campus.

LetsGoDU reported the decision last month following the announcement by the University President, Dr. Robbyn Wacker. Now, a group of Husky athletes has released a YouTube video touting the value of college athletics. Ironically, it was a lawsuit initiated and won last year by 10 female athletes citing Title IX unequal treatment which may have led to the cuts. That, and a reported $1.8 reported revenue shortfall in athletics combined with falling enrollment and poor football attendance.

No doubt, the massive size of a football team, coaching expense, equipment, travel and facilities played a major factor in the ultimate decision to drop football which left other sports, particularly women’s teams, underfunded and undersupported.

The lawsuit was won in a court decision this past August. At the time, lead plaintiff, Alexie Portz, a former tennis player, told MPR News “We’ve been waiting a long time for the news. Everything in the law goes slowly, but we’re just really excited.” She went on to state that she’s hopeful that the ruling will keep opportunities open for girls and women who’ve yet to enroll at St. Cloud State.

Unfortunately, rising costs and falling enrollment are making football, especially at the Division II level, a costly proposition. And the future for many universities and colleges may be fewer opportunities for men and women – not more.

The suit was triggered in early 2016 when St. Cloud State announced their intention to eliminate six men’s and women’s athletic programs including tennis, women’s Nordic skiing, and men’s cross country due to cost considerations – while keeping football.

The recent cuts do not appear to have any direct impact on Husky hockey and, in fact, may allow St. Cloud State to focus even more heavily on the sport going forward. And they still will offer a full slate of 16 sports to include men’s baseball basketball, hockey, soccer, swim & dive and wrestling. On the women’s side, they will offer basketball, cross country, hockey, Nordic ski, soccer, softball, swim & dive, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Over time, if St. Cloud has the same experience as University of Denver and University of Nebraska Omaha, they will find out that this is the right decision – without damaging Husky athletics, student athletes or the fan experience. By distributing funds more equitably, all athletic stakeholders are likely to benefit.

But, short-term, there will be real heartburn and angst in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

8 thoughts on “St Cloud State Athletes Deal with Changing Landscape”

  1. Poor management and lack of foresight is to blame. No matter how great DU is in a majority of its sports. Basketball will never succeed without being in a major conference. Without Football DU will never attract a conference that will draw attention.

  2. Anon 12:10 Plenty of hoop schools are successful in minor conferences and or those w/o football. Zags, St. Mary’s, UConn, Wichita State, Liberty, Belmont, , etc..

  3. Anon 2pm. By the way Liberty has Football.
    DU will never get in a well respected Basketball conference so you don’t have to worry. The only semi respected conference would be the Mountain West. With no football forget about it

  4. If DU can get itself to an NCAA tournament level /NCAA top 75-100 b-ball program on a consistent basis ( a heavy lift right now, but not out of the question) they may be attractive to several great non-football conferences.

    The most aspirational of these is the Big East, where DU is already a very valued member of the conference in Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse. The Pios fit the academic profile of the conference well, would offer the conference a new time zone with Western exposure and DU would be currently competitive in the all the sports DU plays that are sponsored by the Big East, save basketball, which obviously would need to get to that consistent top 75-100 level to be considered. DU would be a good travel partner for Creighton. If DU were to ever get in, I think Basketball would be 6,000+ fan draw here, with the biggest games being played in the Pepsi Center.

    The WCC and Missouri Valley are also solid hoops destinations that would be a basketball upgrade for DU over the Summit. The problem with both of these conferences is that they aren’t big spectator draws in Denver over Summit, save for perhaps Gonzaga and BYU.

  5. Mr. Swami,
    Although Big East is great for Lacrosse and Denver, I don’t feel Basketball would gain any relevance as I think people would rather see DU compete for championships against Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force. The reason they aren’t significant now is due to poor results and even when they play those opponents the results have very little significance.

  6. Big East or Mountain West, both would be a major step up for hoops and most olympic sports. Unfortunately I think it’s still a pipe dream at this point. Big East makes the most sense when you throw in lax.

    1. My two-cents…The answer is West Coast Conference for a host of reasons. Similar schools in the growing west. DU would add a growing market and expand their footprint. From a recruiting standpoint, it would be a huge plus for students and athletes in the west. While they are good in hoops they have excellent programs in volleyball and soccer and other sports as well. And, I do think there will be a day they add lax with the growth of the sport in California. I think student would also relate much better to western private schools than the Big East. We also have well heeled alumni in that area as well – another plus for visibility and fund raising. Plus, travel will be less than most of DU’s Summit League destinations. I just don’t see the Big East as a possibility and the Missouri Valley will not excite students and travel will be costly.

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