Suffice to say, it’s been a rough week for William & Mary Athletics — perhaps the toughest since the Scandal of 1951.
But we’re not talking about a scandal this time around. This is a different type of pain.
This one is not self-inflicted. Even though it does in fact seem self-inflicted to a large subset of the Green and Gold community.
There’s one camp that says this was inevitable, that this was bound to happen even before COVID-19’s global breakout.
And yes, things did seem to be trending that way, with W&M officials hinting over the past year about the possibility the school could cut back on sports programs.
After all, a small school such as W&M was supporting the highest number of athletic programs in the CAA; objectively speaking, that number didn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
And then we were greeted with a global pandemic, which seemingly sped this whole process up.
The pandemic threw the sports world, both collegiate and professional, into a blender.
Commissioners scrambled, Athletic Directors fumbled, and serious discussions were had at all sporting levels about their futures.
Everyone from Little League to the Big 4 of the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL had these discussions. And W&M was no different.
What was it to do — now facing massive financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus?
Inevitably, William & Mary’s decision came to cut 7 sports programs last week.
In the wake of that decision rose an army of Tribe supporters at odds with the decision — and that’s putting it lightly.
They see Olympic sports suffering at the hands of other sports and the current administration.
They don’t understand how relatively “low budget” sports programs that have been woven into the very fabric of W&M Athletics life and culture can be taken away with the snap of a finger.
From their perspective — take Swimming for example — there aren’t but three combined scholarships across the men’s and women’s teams.
Upkeep seems minimal; and yes, the program is/was in desperate need of a new swimming facility — but alums have noted the success of the program and its recent championships, all coming without adequate facilities anyway.
But what has perhaps irked this group more than anything is the fact that they were never contacted.
Despite W&M saying that it had “turned over every stone” to keep these programs in place, alums claim they were never called to lend their financial support.
But enough from us. As one can imagine, reaction to the decision was immediate and hit social media like an avalanche last Thursday.
We don’t know what the future holds, but if the below assortment of W&M fan reactions is any indication (curated primarily from our Facebook Group — feel free to join), many will fight in hope that serious changes are made.
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15 thoughts on “W&M Cuts 7 Sports: Fan Reactions”
Colin nails it. The point of maintaining a Division I athletics program is to raise the national profile. These sports did not serve that mission, no matter how many consecutive CAA championships they have won.
That it was probably the correct move doesn’t make it any less sad. My heart goes out to everyone who was invested in those programs. I hope the Athletic Department does as much as they can to help the transition to club status.
The most nationally relevant team W&M has at present is the Swim team. NCAAB has NEVER had a bid to play in March Madness. Football, we have produced a few good athletes, at least 1/2 dozen great coaches, but i would wager it was more their smarts that led to their success. Huge has no plan, and the best she has done is “failed up” in her career.
Women’s tennis is the most nationally relevant program, not even close. Swimming gets the award for doing more with less.
Right, but you’re looking at it in terms of on court/in pool success, not in terms of actually raising the national profile of the school. The American public doesn’t care about college swimming.
It isn’t a contest between which teams are the most worthy of being funded. The issue is that they made no effort to solicit funding for the teams that were cut, and it’s obvious that there are a lot of potential donors out there who were (and are) willing to donate money to save those sports. Preemptively saying that it couldn’t be done–and presenting a hilariously inaccurate figure as the cost–is disingenuous at best.
As for Huge, she’s had SOME accomplishment at W&M, hasn’t she? I mean, she redesigned the W&M logo. We’ve gone from looking like a university to looking like a frozen yogurt shop. That has to count for something.
Frank Probst, MD, PhD
Former W&M Swimmer
Class of 1993
The W&M swim team costs almost nothing to run (around $150-$200k/yr), yet it competes at a national level every single year. This year, William & Mary has the 4th fastest NCAA 50 freestyle swimmer in the country.
Here’s some info so you can study up:
Just because you weren’t aware of the success of these programs doesn’t mean that they’re not worthy of the College’s support. By the way, what Olympic sports do most people watch? Swimming? Gymnastics? Track & Field?
Huge never contacted alumni/parents/friends of the swim team program to fundraise or warn them that the program was at risk of being cut. The reason these teams were cut was so that Huge could reallocate donations that were specifically made to these programs over the years through endowments. Why? Because OTHER teams are loss leaders.
If W&M is struggling financially, and the goal of the athletic department is to be nationally relevant, how does it make sense to throw more money at expensive and underperforming sports? Maybe they should take a page from the swim team’s book who HAS actually become nationally relevant with no scholarships and basic facilities. They should be the model for other teams at W&M, not eliminated! It’s crazy if you think about it. Succeed in every conceivable way at W&M, with few resources, and rather than duplicate this successful model we eliminate you, wow
Now you know how we felt when Wrestling was cut years ago. I’m sad for all especially upperclassmen/women.
Once again, the, “desperate need of a new swimming facility” is hilariously false! The best athlete that has ever been through W&M is a swimmer. The mens swim team boasts 6 consecutive CAA championships.
We’ve been proud Tribe Club supports while our daughter was at William and Mary and enjoyed cheering for an amazing swim team. My questions and concerns are many and I am hesitant to continue to support an athletics department that is not transparent and misleads its supporters. Close to 13 million in endowments from the cut teams. What is The college planning on doing with it?
W and M for the bold campaign raised 1 billion dollars and several of the cut teams were showcased to help reach this goal(false advertising?).
The swim team consistently has one of the highest GPA’s among the athletes
Tremendous alumni support that funds the team every year.
13 Olympic qualifiers
9 time CAA championship team
And much more
What is going on with the new AD? What is her agenda in cutting these teams that don’t really significantly affect the budget. I’m hoping that in the coming days there will be some transparency and answers.
Please define Nationally Relevant? Is that amount of Director Cup points stenciled in as a KPI for the AD’s bonus?
Sure colleges our size may sneak a Cinderella team into the Sweet 16. However, W&M football competes against JMU. Who happens to have an undergraduate enrollment 3 times the size of W&M. Also, recruiting for football is competing against all of the Armed Force Academies + the Ivy’s, just to pass the admissions litmus test. If W&M wants to showcase revenue sports, then let them fund themselves versus swindling the non-revenue teams endowments. No, I do not hate football, I played all 4 years in college. It just time for a different approach. When a crisis hits, people need to be collaborate and not become dictators. These cuts are nothing more than con man’s shell game!
“But what has perhaps irked this group more than anything is the fact that they were never contacted.”
This. Zero effort to allow the alumni to fundraise. Zero effort to assess the impact of this decision on students, alumni, and faculty by simply ASKING them what they thought. This is not the behavior of an organization attempting to meet a budget shortfall. It’s the behavior of bullies and liars who are hellbent on killing several successful programs.
Several of these teams have endowments that provide partial support for their existence. What happens to that money? Will it be returned to the former members of those teams, or will it be stolen by the people who made this unilateral decision?
Frank Probst, MD, PhD
Former W&M Swimmer
Class of 1993
Beth says it was not sustainable? What?? Some of these teams were fully endowed. And others could have been given the chance to increase endowment. The cost to run these sports is next to nothing. The school had other motives.