By Jeremy Howard and Cory Gallagher
LAWRENCE, Kansas. Mar 10. "RESPECT. INTEGRITY." These are the "Core Values" listed in the University of Kansas Student-Athlete Handbook These values have been grossly violated by Dr. Bob Frederick and the Athletic Department within the past week.
The Department of Athletics’ Mission Statement dictates that all personnel, including athletes and coaches, "are committed to treating each other with dignity and respect." Were the members of Men’s Swimming and Diving and Men’s Tennis programs treated with dignity or respect when they were notified without warning that their programs would no longer exist?
Notification of the elimination of these two teams reached members of the student government, counselors and fellow student-athletes hours and even days before the teams themselves were notified of the decision. As a result, many of the student-athletes were notified of the announcement prior to the official meeting with Dr. Frederick. This shows a great deal of disrespect towards these student-athletes on the part of Dr. Frederick, and the athletic department as a whole. Neither of these programs were notified in advance of possible elimination nor were they given a chance to be held accountable or make cuts to their budgets.
Head Men’s Swimming coach Doug Dickinson has stated, "I could cut $100,000 without lifting a finger." Neither program was given any chance to seek alternative options by reducing their budgets, raising additional funds, or contacting alumni. Not being given that chance is part of a larger problem pervading the athletic department as a whole.
The athletic department employs seven associate or assistant athletic directors. These administrative positions, as well as all other administrative positions in the Athletic Department, have gone untouched while the pool of student-athletes they pledge their support to is reduced by greater than 10-percent.
Obviously there is money floating around.
The annual training trip taken by the Men’s Swimming and Diving team, accounting for over $75,000, would willingly be discontinued at the welfare of the program’s future. Further excessive travel expenses include $300+ airline tickets and $250+ a-night hotels. As quoted by Frederick’s Sunday press release, money allotted for travel situations "[has] increased by 115 percent" since joining the Big 12. This is understandable with new destinations, but given the statistics listed above, there is obviously room for improvement. With minimal cuts, alone, of just over $30,000 in each of the budgets of the remaining 18 sports, both programs would be saved. (KU is one of the few colleges in the nation that fully funds all athletic teams, giving the maximum number of scholarships allowed per NCAA rules.)
By spreading the financial burden over all sports instead of eliminating two highly reputable programs with storied histories, stretching back to the first years of Phog Allen’s coaching career, the misfortune of over 50 student-athletes can be easily avoided.
Bob Frederick had the option of making minor cuts to each program or cutting two sports completely. He did not give either program a chance to explore any other budgetary options than their elimination. He chose the easy way out.
Everyone can do at least a small part to help: a phone call or an e-mail expressing concern. If you are a KU alum, a fan of the sports of swimming and diving or tennis, or just angered by the discontinuation of programs at the collegiate level, in general, action can be taken.
Donors to the University of Kansas: threaten discontinuation of your support. With public outcry and the realization of this unsound financial decision this battle can be won!
Jeremy Howard and Cory Gallagher are members of the University of Kansas Swim Team. You can reach them at:
Jeremy Howard (785) 312-2182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cory Gallagher (785) 312-7451 or email@example.com
Rob Kelly (785) 830-7124 and Dustin Chalfant (785) 312-7262 can be contacted regarding donations and other pro-active support.
The "Save KU Swimming" website is: www.homestead.com/savekuswimming
Comments regarding the University's decision, including donor discontinuation, should be directed toward:
Bob Frederick, Athletic Director: (785) 864-3143 or (785) 749-2129; firstname.lastname@example.org; or toward
Chancellor Robert Hemenway: (785) 864-3131 or (785) 841-0989; email@example.com