James Madison Reverses Decision, Recommends Swimming Be Retained–But Without Scholarships

March 5. A RECOMMENDATION released Thursday, Feb. 22 by the James Madison University administration would enable the university to continue offering all 28 intercollegiate sports that are now available at JMU. The recommendation would reverse the previously announced decision that would have cut swimming, and several other sports, from those offered by the university.

In its recommendation that will go to the Athletics Committee of the JMU Board of Visitors, the university administration also proposed a reallocation of resources among the sports programs: that is, more resources would be put into the university's football program–which already receives the lion's share of funding–and in women's sports.

This reallocation would result in bringing JMU closer to Title IX guidelines and would also provide needed funding to upgrade the athletics department's academic support and sports medicine programs.

The recommendation calls for JMU teams to be divided into two categories: one which would receive the maximum scholarship aid allowed by the NCAA and one which would receive no scholarship aid from the university, but the programs could raise private funds for scholarships.

A recommendation to the university from the Centennial Sports Committee ­ a group of faculty members, administrators and community representatives ­ had proposed the elimination of eight intercollegiate sports.

A university spokesman said the university administration's recommendation was made with the belief that the framers of Title IX did not intend for compliance efforts to result in the elimination of men's sports opportunities.

The university's recommendation is consistent with JMU's goal of providing a "comprehensive and competitive" intercollegiate program, said JMU President Linwood H. Rose and Athletics Director Jeff Bourne.

Under the recommendation, 13 JMU teams would receive the NCAA maximum number of scholarships from the university and would be expected to consistently perform among the top teams in their conference and frequently appear in national rankings.

The 15 other intercollegiate teams would receive no scholarship aid from the university but would continue to have their operations funded by the university. These teams would provide opportunities for broad-based participation by students. Expectations for success by these teams would be commensurate with the fact they would be operating without university scholarship support.

Scholarship levels will differ from sport to sport, but all student-athletes at JMU will be treated the same, Bourne said. Each student-athlete will have the full support of the university so they can have positive experiences while representing JMU on the intercollegiate level, he said.

The university would provide scholarships in football, baseball, soccer and basketball for men and in nine sports for women's: soccer, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, indoor track, outdoor track and cross country. (Although counted as three sports by the NCAA, women's indoor track, outdoor track and cross-country would use the same scholarships.)

Fifteen programs would operate with no scholarship aid from the university. These include archery, golf, gymnastics, swimming/diving, indoor track, outdoor track, cross country, tennis and wrestling for men and the following sports for women: archery, fencing, golf, gymnastics, swimming/diving and tennis. (The two archery teams and the fencing team did not offer scholarships in the past.)

If the university administration's recommendation is implemented, no new scholarships will be offered for next year in those 15 programs. Existing scholarships would be honored until the student graduates or exhausts his or her athletic eligibility.

Most of the programs receiving scholarship aid from the university will see no change, or an increase of one or two, in the number of scholarships they receive.

Exceptions are the women's track teams, which will receive nine additional grants, and women's volleyball, which will receive four new grants. The new program of women's softball will receive 12 scholarships from the university.

Most of the programs that will lose university scholarship aid can now award from one to three grants per year. Other current scholarship levels range from zero for archery and fencing to five for women's tennis, seven each for men's and women's swimming/diving and ten for men's indoor track, outdoor track and cross country.

While no new university scholarships would be available for these sports, the programs would have the university's endorsement and assistance in raising private funds for scholarships.

Participation ­ the number of student-athletes competing on a team ­ would also change under the university's recommendation.

All the men's scholarship programs would see their participation numbers drop: football by nine, soccer by six, baseball by three and basketball by one.

Participation rates would increase in all women's sports except basketball, which would remain unchanged. The new sport of softball would have 20 participants and the other sports would increase by the following numbers: volleyball, five; indoor track, outdoor track, cross country, four; soccer, three; and field hockey, one.

In the scholarship programs, the percentage of men and women students participating would virtually mirror percentages of total male/female enrollment at the university. This meets the current interpretation of Title IX, which calls for participation rates to be within one percentage point of the total student body.

Scholarships awarded under the recommendation would be almost equal for men and women student-athletes ­ 51 percent for men and 49 percent for women. Total participation rates for men and women in both scholarship and non-scholarship programs would be virtually even ­ 50.6 percent for men and 49.4 percent for women.

In terms of dollars, $641,100 in scholarship funds would be reallocated from the 15 non-scholarship sports. Just over half of that money would be reallocated for scholarships in the 13 scholarship sports and the remainder would be used to improve the athletic department's academic support and sports medicine programs.

The total budget for the athletic department remains unchanged. The administration's recommendation does not call for any additional reliance on student fees.

Operating budgets would change only slightly for both scholarship and non-scholarship programs. A total of $60,200 would be cut from operating budgets of the non-scholarship programs. The majority of the cuts result from reducing funds for recruiting and recruiting-related travel.

The operating funds would be reallocated to scholarship programs, with all but three of the programs receiving additional funds in the $3,300-$6,600 range. The exceptions are women's basketball, which would receive an increase of $16,649, and the football and men's basketball programs, which would receive no increase.

The administration's recommendation now goes to the Athletics Committee of the JMU Board of Visitors. The committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the Latimer-Shaeffer Theatre of JMU's Duke Hall to hear comments from head coaches and one student athlete from each team affected by the administration's recommendation.

The committee will not take any action on the recommendation at the Feb. 28 meeting. The committee plans to meet just before the March 23 meeting of the Board of Visitors to make a decision on its recommendation to the full board.

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