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.