RU Athletics: Reconfiguring a family

Radford University has recently chosen to cut men’s indoor and outdoor track, field hockey and women’s swimming and diving programs. RU’s out of the blue decision has left many athletes with only three options: drop out, transfer or stay without participating in their sport. This may not seem very important to outsiders, but this decision has destroyed many dreams.

RU has deemed it necessary to reconfigure their athletic program in order to add women’s lacrosse. This addition to their program came at a devastating price. The school cut four D1 teams, some still in their competing season. RU has said this reconfiguration was in the best interest for future athletes. While this may be in the best interest of one team, it’s certainly not for the other four. Few future student athletes benefit from this drastic choice because there’s only one sport being added. Potential student athletes for the other four teams will never reap the benefits of this restructure.

Ruswim team
The women’s swim and dive team were one of the teams Radford University decided to cut from their athletics program.
Photo from Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association.

This began with a single email sent by RU informing athletes that they had an [optional] meeting to attend. When the athletes questioned their coaches about the meeting, the trainers were unaware of it. That in itself was extremely disrespectful to the coaches. The school went over their heads leaving them in the dark about a serious decision resulting in their unemployment. The official press release was uploaded to the internet before the athletes and coaches were even aware of the board’s ruling. This lack of consideration is unbelievable.

A now ex-swimmer said the meeting lasted less than five minutes. The teams were told nonchalantly that they were being cut.  There were many shocked and broken hearts stemming from those simple, yet life-changing words. Uncertainty about the future clouded everyone’s minds while endless tears streamed down distraught faces. Here is a link to the press release. 

One track athlete commented saying, “I feel like I’ve been slighted. My freshman year feels like nothing more than a waste of time.” This situation was only made worse when the student athletes were told that they could not ask any questions. These athletes worked hard every day for RU and were repaid with as much dignity as a bug on a windshield.

RU became a home for these athletes and now it has been ruthlessly ripped away. Scholarships are a make it or break it deal. Most of these athletes were on scholarships but now that their program has been cut, they’re in jeopardy. The athletes do get to keep their scholarships but the aid freezes. Freshmen usually do not see a large sum of aid until after the completion of their first year. Regrettably, these freshmen will not see an increase in aid. This may greatly influence their ability to afford RU’s tuition.

Many freshmen swimmers agreed that “Radford should have grandfathered the freshmen in. They should not have just hung us out to dry.” “Grandfathering” refers to the freshmen who are the last incoming class for a sport. The freshmen would be able to swim all four years and the team would be terminated after they had graduated.

Money plays a vital role in our society. Money allows us to be educated. Once money has been taken away, however, one’s chances of a successful future go right with it. RU has cost some futures with this decision. Students may have to drop out if their scholarships remain at a low rate. Many students now have to find other universities willing to induct them into their already formed teams. This adds to the already stressful nature of college. These athletes have to not only juggle their school work but also their future athletic plans and potential goodbyes.

This choice not only affects the current athletes but also the incoming freshmen who have already signed on. These athletes chose RU in order to participate in their sports, but now they are entering without the option of accomplishing that goal. This sets back their plans because they cannot transfer until their spring semester. The general feeling amongst the athletes affected is if RU planned out their actions better, these scholars would have been able to salvage their futures. The current athletes would have also been able to transfer before the spring transfer deadline.

RU’s impersonal approach  has cast a dark shadow over many lives. Families have also been ripped apart. This may seem like an over-exaggerated statement, but these athletes have sweated, cried and even bled together. They bonded over losses and wins. They support one another through thick and thin. If that doesn’t portray a strong family, what does? We can only hope Radford has made the right choice. For more information about this, visit here.