Tim Hall, UMBC’s director of athletics, announced today that the men’s and women’s division I tennis programs are being discontinued. The decision was authorized by President Freeman Hrabowski and announced in a campus-wide email.
According to the email, the termination of the programs followed a newly approved university policy. The policy, approved by the UMBC Athletic Policy Committee in May 2015, states that “the Department shall prepare a written proposal responding to each of the criteria listed above. The proposal should clearly explain the rationale for the proposed action and detail its financial implications.”
The criteria mentioned are: consistency with UMBC’s image and mission; the availability of facilities that meet NCAA and conference standards; the record of support and interest from students, alumni and the community or the anticipation of sufficient support and interest once a team is established; the impact on diversity and gender representation consistent with NCAA regulations reflecting the goal that athlete demographics reflect UMBC’s student body profile; maintaining membership in a conference; a financial analysis projecting the impact of the proposed action, especially its impact on the student athletics fee, the budgets of the athletics department and the university, and staffing requirements.
The proposal was reviewed by the APC on behalf of the faculty, staff and student senates.
According to Hall, “The eight-member men’s squad includes five seniors and three juniors. The 10-member women’s team includes three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman. UMBC will honor all commitments of grant-in aid awards for these student-athletes. UMBC will also grant unconditional releases to any student-athletes who choose to transfer to another institution.”
Hall wrote in his email that the termination of the programs responded to a national downward trend in the number of sports offered at NCAA Division I schools. According to Hall, the America East Conference in which UMBC competes “dropped men’s tennis as a sponsored sport over a year ago.”
“As a result,” wrote Hall, “UMBC and fellow AEC schools entered into a two-year contract with the Missouri Valley Conference which concludes at the end of the 2016 spring season. This temporary conference is not sustainable, as it involves costly and time-consuming travel for student-athletes. We also anticipate that the AEC will soon consider whether to continue women’s tennis as a sponsored sport.”
Hall also informed the UMBC student body that the move to discontinue tennis is “consistent with our efforts to maintain compliance with Title IX gender equity requirements for scholarships and operate our athletic programs effectively and efficiently.”
He wrote that the elimination of the teams will stabilize the athletic department’s budget, reducing debt and minimizing future student athletics fee increases.