From Illinois Business Journal news services
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville today announced that it is reducing its intercollegiate athletic programs from 18 to 16 effective June 30. Men’s tennis and women’s golf will be removed from SIUE’s sport program roster.
The decision impacts eight men’s tennis student-athletes and eight women’s golf student-athletes currently on the rosters. Men’s tennis head coach Jason Coomer will continue his responsibilities as senior associate director of athletics, which includes serving as sport supervisor for women’s tennis. Director of Golf Derrick Brown will continue in his role as men’s golf head coach.
The decision is a result of a seven-month financial analysis conducted by the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee caused by the ongoing state of Illinois budget crisis. ICAC needed to determine a reduction of $200,000 in the Department of Athletics budget.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions that we have ever made as a department, because it impacts the lives of current student-athletes,” said Brad Hewitt, SIUE director of athletics. “However, it became readily apparent that with the declining state appropriation and the University’s defined approach to managing that budget issue, we would not be able to continue to fund and support 18 sport programs at a level that is consistent with this department’s culture.
“All student-athletes who wish to stay at SIUE and achieve their degrees will remain on their current financial aid through their senior year,” Hewitt said.
ICAC’s recommendation was approved by SIUE Interim Chancellor Stephen Hansen and SIU President Randy Dunn.
Hewitt indicated the charge from the University administration was for every unit to narrow its focus while continuing to excel. Every Cougar sport program was researched in areas such as financial impact; academics and student services; alumni, community and donor engagement; media generated; high school participation numbers and recent NCAA Division I competitive performance.
“All scenarios were rated based on the impact that the decision would have on our overall department, student-athletes and the University,” Hewitt said. “We realized that across the board cuts would significantly and negatively impact our department culture, and we strongly believe our culture is the key to our program’s ability to not just survive, but to thrive.
“The conclusion is that the reduction of men’s tennis and women’s golf provided the necessary financial relief with the least amount of negative impact on the department.”
The SIUE men’s tennis program started in 1974 and is best known for winning seven consecutive NCAA Division II Championships between 1978 and 1984. Eleven of the 154 student-athletes who have competed for SIUE men’s tennis have been inducted into the SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame.
The SIUE women’s golf program began its first season of competition during the 1998-99 season. The program includes one Great Lakes Valley Conference individual champion and two Ohio Valley Conference all-league participants. Fifty-five student-athletes have competed for the Cougars since the program’s inception.
The Cougars’ men’s tennis and women’s golf programs participate in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). The 12 OVC member institutions each sponsor between 14-21 intercollegiate sport programs. SIUE’s wrestling program competes in the Southern Conference, while the men’s soccer program competes in the Missouri Valley Conference.