PHOENIX, Arizona, January 17. IN a tale of two athletics programs, Rutgers University and James Madison University will forever be intertwined in the swimming community as the two programs that cut men's swimming in 2006.
Recent news out of both camps shows that both set of student-athletes impacted by the cuts are continuing to fight the good fight.
In New Jersey, Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan, Pamela Lampitt, Craig Stanley and Jim Whelan has stepped forward to ask the bull-headed Rutgers Athletics Director Robert E. Mulcahy III and the Board of Governors to reconsider their decision to cut six teams in a resolution co-sponsored by 11 other legislators.
The resolution states that "the cost savings attributable to the elimination of these athletic teams do not justify the negative impact the elimination would have on the student-athletes who participate in these programs." It also details how the cuts would negatively impact the "approximately 12,000 high school students" who currently participate in the six cut sports (lightweight and heavyweight men's crew, men's swimming and diving, men's tennis, and men's and women's fencing).
The vote on this resolution will take place within the next two weeks. It is imperative that all members of the swimming community who are citizens of the State of New Jersey contact their local legislators and ask others in your area to do the same. As directed by the sponsors of the resolution, the best way to go about doing this is via e-mail, a telephone call, and/or a handwritten note.
The writer (or caller) should identify himself/herself by name and municipality, note his/her permanent address (within the district), indicate what voting members also reside at that address, indicate relationship to the Rutgers team(s), stress the personal importance of reinstating these teams, and urge that assemblyman/woman to:
* "sign on" to or pass AR 233 and urge fellow members to do the same;
* Contact the University directly (Pres. McCormick, Al Gamper of Board of Governors) to urge the University to reverse its decision; and
* Do whatever the legislator can to reinstate all six eliminated teams.
Meanwhile, a student-athlete day has been scheduled for Jan. 29 in Trenton, N.J. at the state courthouse from 9:30 a.m. to shortly after 1 p.m. in a show of support for the six cut teams.
The reason for the urgency in this situation is that the next public Board of Governors meeting will take place on Feb. 9. If a decision change is not done by that time, the next open meeting will be in April. So, it is truly crunch time to activate any support for these six sports.
In the meantime, James Madison University took a hit as the Board of Visitors recently rejected a request from the Coalition to Save JMU Sports to rescind its decision to cut 10 sports to comply with Title IX according to a report by Mike Barber in The Daily News Record.
After listening to a presentation by Jennifer Chapman, JMU's senior captain of the women's track and cross country team and president of the student-athlete advisory committee, the Board of Visitors stated that the school's only option to comply with Title IX, a law designed to increase opportunities for women's participation in campus activities, would come by way of cutting 10 teams that include three women's teams in archery, fencing and gymnastics.
With this latest setback, JMU's cut teams will most likely have to sue to retain their existence.