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Athletics Task Force

Updates

A Message from President Loeschke

April 25, 2013

Dear Parents/Guardians of Towson Baseball Players:

On April 15th, I met with players of the baseball team to share the most recent good news from the Maryland Legislature and the implications on the future of the baseball program at Towson University. In that meeting I promised the athletes, parents and supporters a written communication with the latest details. As details unfold, we will continue these written updates.

In an extraordinary act of concern and support, Governor O’Malley and the Legislature have provided a two-year window of opportunity to sustain the baseball program through fundraising and a new two-year University System of Maryland (USM) donation match program. The plan includes the ability for Towson University to access $300,000 next year and another $300,000 the following year. This will require Towson to raise $200,000 as soon as possible. Because of the pledges and assurances from donors that have already been made by baseball supporters, we are optimistic that this amount will be raised. Therefore, we can ensure that the spring 2014 and 2015 baseball seasons will be played. We will all work together to have a sustainable baseball program for the spring 2016 season.

This action combined with the financial support to upgrade the women’s softball facility have changed the financial and Title IX situation of our intercollegiate athletics program. I am forming an Athletics Oversight Committee that will work throughout the next two years to oversee progress on long-term budget projections and gender equity concerns and ensure the stability of all Towson Athletic programs. That is the goal for all of us.

As Towson Athletics implements its vision and strategic plan, this oversight committee will advise me on progress by:

  • Monitoring attainment of Title IX gender equity goals.
  • Monitoring the implementation of a strategy to preserve the baseball program.
  • Monitoring the goal to achieve budget sustainability and affordability.
  • Monitoring our progress in raising academic and athletic competitiveness in our Intercollegiate Athletics Program.
  • Holding public forum(s) when appropriate.


I look forward to working with baseball supporters to raise the funds needed to continue and sustain this program. The Towson University Development Office and Towson Athletics Department are ready to support the baseball community and engage its supporters in the aggressive fundraising campaign that will allow baseball to continue. The Development Office is developing a fundraising plan focused on baseball.

During my informal conversations with many of you at a recent baseball game, you expressed interest in an informational meeting about fundraising as well as specific details on how contributions can be made right now. A fundraising informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 14 from 4 - 5 p.m. in the Minnegan Room of Unitas Stadium Field House.

Contributions to support Towson Baseball can be made payable to the Towson University Foundation, with “Baseball Operating Fund” in the memo line, and mailed to the Towson University Foundation (P.O. Box 17165, Baltimore, MD 21297-0219). You may also give online. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Carl Evans at 410-704-2646.

We will continue to provide updates to you, the student baseball athletes, the campus, USM Chancellor Kirwan and the Board of Regents, and supporters as more information becomes available. I am pleased that we are at this point in preserving the baseball tradition at TU while complying with our obligations to all of our student-athletes.

Thank you for your continued engagement and support as we work to advance excellence and success at Towson University.

Legislature approves $2.3 million to assist toward Title IX disparities

April 8, 2013

The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation today approving a $2 million capital appropriation to Towson University for the construction of a new women’s softball stadium. The stadium approval comes days after the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation establishing a $300,000 intercollegiate athletics donation incentive match program.

The approved capital legislation gives Towson $500,000 in FY2014 and $1.5 million in FY2015 to build a softball stadium which Towson University President Maravene Loeschke cited as one of the costly gender inequities requiring immediate attention if baseball were to continue at Towson.

The softball stadium was also one of the many Title IX and financial factors highlighted during the six-month process that ultimately led to the discontinuation of two sports at Towson, men’s soccer and baseball in March.

“Governor O’Malley’s initial budget request was a first step and with the stadium approval today we are making progress on the gender inequities in our sports offerings,” said President Loeschke.

“This new women’s softball stadium will help us address a disparity between baseball and softball at Towson, and I thank Senator Ed DeGrange and Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones for their leadership in that effort. However, there is still work to be done on achieving proportionality and the commensurate scholarships, and services necessary to support all student-athletes.”

In addition to addressing the disparity between men’s and women’s facilities, Towson must also address a “laundry list” of NCAA items such as scholarships, recruiting budgets, staff salaries and support services.

“I’m thankful to President Loeschke for her leadership and everyone in the legislature that had anything to do with this new women’s facility,” said Towson softball Head Coach Lisa Costello. “With this stadium, we have the opportunity to be more competitive in the CAA and address a real gap in facilities that widened over the years.”

The University System of Maryland (USM) incentive match program revises the Governor’s initial supplemental budget request announced earlier this month. The program will be available to USM institutions competing in NCAA Division I sports seeking to maintain compliance with Title IX. The program will provide Towson a window of opportunity to address Title IX inequities and will also provide baseball supporters enough operating assistance to engage in an aggressive fundraising campaign to enable the baseball program to be self-sufficient by fall 2015. The program will require institutions and boosters to raise private dollars to match the state assistance.

The discontinuation of men’s soccer will still be necessary for Towson to make progress on Title IX proportionality based on undergraduate enrollment. Both legislative decisions will go a long way in assisting the institution in providing an affordable, high quality education while enhancing the student experience at Towson University.

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A Message from President Loeschke

April 2, 2013

Yesterday Governor O’Malley made an unprecedented decision to include Towson University baseball in his FY14 supplemental budget request to the Maryland General Assembly. If approved by the legislature, the request will help Towson temporarily and partially address both financial and federal Title IX issues which gave rise to last month’s decision to discontinue baseball and men’s soccer. This funding request only allows us to continue baseball for a two year period. The elimination of the men's soccer team is still a necessary step towards addressing federal Title IX compliance and we will not be adding men’s tennis.

Even with this additional funding request of $300,000 per year for two years, and a student fee increase of one percent, additional private fundraising by baseball program supporters of at least $100,000 per year over the next two years is required in order for the program to remain operational. By fall 2015, $400,000 per year in private funds must be raised to continue Division I baseball at Towson University.

As was mentioned in yesterday’s press release, no leader seeks to make a decision to disappoint young people who have a passion, whether it is a sport or an academic discipline.

As I have stated in the past, only a completely unexpected influx of external funding could either buy us more time or solve the problem. The governor—in a move only he could make—was able to provide us a two year window of opportunity with his budget request.

Finally, I offer my deepest gratitude to the governor and members of the university community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, board members, and donors who have given this institution their unwavering support.

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Governor O’Malley’s Budget Request Provides Baseball Supporters a Fundraising Opportunity, Extends Decision Timeline

April 1, 2013

Today, if approved by the Maryland General Assembly, Towson University is slated to receive funding in the Governor’s FY14 Supplemental Budget to partially address both financial and federal Title IX issues surrounding last month’s decision to discontinue baseball and men’s soccer.

Governor O’Malley has positioned this funding request of $300,000 per year for two years to give Towson’s Division I baseball program and its supporters a window of opportunity for baseball program supporters to raise necessary funds to become self-sufficient by Fall 2015.

“No leader seeks to make a decision to disappoint young people who have a passion, whether it’s a sport or an academic discipline,” says Towson University President Maravene Loeschke.

“I thank the Governor for helping Towson address this Title IX issue through his supplemental budget—a move only he could make. I am pleased that he heard my strong desire to not resolve this issue solely on the backs of students with a large student fee increase and I applaud his continued commitment to keep college affordable in Maryland.”

According to the supplemental budget released this afternoon, this additional $300,000 per year will go to Towson’s athletics operating budget “to provide funds to address the immediate issues with Federal Title IX compliance and equity for women’s scholarships and support services; assistance to explore the addition of another woman’s sport to meet proportionality requirements; and operating assistance to support baseball operations while the University community engages in an aggressive fundraising campaign to enable baseball to be self-sufficient in two years.”

The request comes after President Loeschke’s meeting with Governor O’Malley last week. Even with this additional funding, a student fee increase of one percent, plus an additional fundraising effort of at least $100,000 per year from baseball program supporters, will be required to keep the program in operation.

Unfortunately, this additional funding does not include the reinstatement of men’s soccer at Towson. In order to reach proportionality, federal Title IX law will require Towson Athletics to explore additional female athlete opportunities in the near future.

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A Message from President Loeschke

March 8, 2013

Dear Towson University Community:

For the past several months our campus has been dealing with a proposed recommendation from our athletics leadership to reconfigure the intercollegiate athletics program to address three issues facing the university: long-term financial stability and affordability; compliance with Federal Title IX requirements; and the ability to be competitive in NCAA Division I athletics.

Last October, I announced that the athletics leadership recommended the discontinuation of men’s soccer and baseball and the addition of men’s tennis as the most viable way for Towson University to resolve these three issues.

With this recommendation in-hand, I initiated the creation of an Athletics Task Force to conduct an external review of all of the information presented and asked for additional public input. After receiving the final report of the Athletics Task Force, which ultimately supported the original recommendation, I conducted my own assessment of all of the information put forth in the report so that I could confidently render my final decision for the university.

I have carefully examined all data, facts and budget projections used in the athletics proposal and task force report. After meticulous review, with internal and external financial analysts and with experts in Title IX, this analysis has confirmed that the discontinuation of baseball and soccer and the addition of men’s tennis is the optimal solution to achieve a balanced annual athletics budget, achieve Title IX compliance, and ensure that our athletic program can be competitive in Division I and the Colonial Athletic Association.

It is with confidence, but great sadness, that I accept the recommendation to discontinue the baseball program at the conclusion of this season and the men’s soccer program, effective immediately.

The process has been lengthy and challenging for many in our TU community, especially for the 62 student athletes in these programs. The seriousness of this situation required this extended amount of time to thoroughly analyze each and every suggested option in order for me to come to this conclusion.

Now, I am asking the entire Towson University community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—to join me in reaching out to all of those who are directly impacted by this decision.

To the student-athletes in these programs, alumni and all past and present coaches, we hold tremendous pride in you. Your legacies will forever remain at Towson University. For those athletes choosing to stay at Towson, we will honor all scholarships and continue access to the full complement of student-athlete support services available. Our Director of Athletics and his staff will ensure that all affected student athletes have the assistance and guidance they need, whether they choose to continue their studies at Towson or transition to another intercollegiate athletics program.

Finally, I thank everyone involved in this arduous process for the compassion, hard work, and patience demonstrated throughout these several months.

I thank those who devoted vast amounts of time to the financial and Title IX analyses. I extend great appreciation to the athletics task force, to the external analysts, and the University System of Maryland. I also thank all of those who offered feedback, alternative options and heartfelt opinions.

Let us unite behind these student athletes while also uniting behind a sustainable, compliant, competitive, and successful athletics program at Towson University.

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A Message from President Loeschke

November 19, 2012

On Friday afternoon, I received the final report of the Athletics Task Force. After spending hundreds of hours collecting and analyzing data, budgets, rosters, and Title IX regulations, exploring 13 alternative options, and listening to concerns expressed in open forums and emails, the task force has endorsed the athletics leadership’s proposed recommendations.

The task force concluded that the discontinuation of men’s soccer and baseball is the most viable way for Towson University to achieve compliance with Title IX requirements, long-term financial stability and competitiveness. The report includes a minority opinion expressing concerns that are counter to the majority recommendation. The full report can be found here.

I thank the members of the task force for their time and thorough review of this issue. I also appreciate and respect the leadership of Athletics Director Mike Waddell and his team. Their work began more than 18 months ago and they have worked diligently to provide information and clarification to the problems identified several years ago.

I have carefully reviewed the Task Force Report and determined that I will not be making a decision this week as originally anticipated. I require more time to review all of the information put forth to carefully render this important decision for the university.

Over the next several weeks we will reconfirm all data, facts and budget projections used in the athletics proposal and task force report. It was, and remains, my intention to put this matter to rest in a timely manner. It is my hope to issue a final decision as soon after the winter break as possible.

Title IX compliance and whether the athletics program has serious short and long-term financial challenges is not open for debate. The reality of the serious financial state of affairs facing our athletics program will require tough decisions to be made.

It has been reported that Towson does not have Title IX challenges. This is completely inaccurate and I will address this misperception, as well as others, in my final decision.

I want to say directly to our student athletes that I am distressed by the continuous upheaval and disruption our current situation has placed on you. You have behaved admirably. I realize that the extension of a final decision makes transferring difficult. I am committed to move forward as quickly as possible and do what is in the best interest of Towson University.

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A Message from President Loeschke

November 14, 2012

The Athletics Task Force is now in its final deliberations on the athletics leadership’s proposed recommendations.

After speaking with the student athletes, it is critical we make a timely decision. With that in mind, I have closely followed the task force’s progress while simultaneously conducting my own extensive review. We have an efficient timeline in place. I anticipate their final assessment within days, which I will review carefully. I will then move quickly to announce my final decision shortly thereafter.

Thank you for your respectful participation in this process and your continued understanding of the complex nature of achieving the three goals: long-term financial stability, proportionality and increased competitiveness. We will keep all of you posted as soon as there are new updates.

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A Message from President Loeschke

November 2, 2012

On Thursday, November 1, nearly 150 people were in attendance as the Athletics Task Force heard public commentary for two hours on the recommendation to discontinue men’s soccer and baseball.

I want to thank all of the parents, alumni, hall of famers, student-athletes, community members and friends of Towson University who attended the Athletics Task Force’s public forum last night. Your comments were thoughtful, creative, passionate, and most of all respectful of the complexity of three issues facing the university: financial stability, competitiveness and compliance. I am appreciative that many commented on the long-standing academic excellence of our student athletes and their exemplary behavior through this difficult process.

The university’s Board of Visitors, my senior advisory board, also met yesterday prior to the public forum to discuss the recommendation, ask questions and provide guidance.

The task force convened immediately after the public forum to continue their discussions and review the plethora of information received in the last month. They will meet again next week and move toward their final deliberations.

Thank you for your scheduling flexibility during this week’s weather-related delays. We will do our part to keep you informed through the Athletics Task Force website, where you may continue to provide input.


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Announcement: Athletics Task Force Public Forum Rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1

The Towson University Office of Public Safety is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Sandy with the latest information from the National Weather Service. As a precaution, the Athletics Task Force Public Forum has been rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1 at Unitas Stadium Field House, Minnegan Room from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

 

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A Message from President Loeschke

October 26, 2012

This week the Athletics Task Force made significant progress in their independent review of the recommendation from athletics leadership, and they continue to be on track to make a final recommendation to me by mid-November.

I was pleased to see the students attend the student forum earlier in the week. Both the task force and I appreciated hearing directly from them and listening to their own creative ideas and solutions in the context of the three issues facing the university in athletics: establishing long-term financial stability, achieving proportionality, and increasing competitiveness of the overall athletics program. I want to thank all of the students who attended for expressing their concerns and comments with both civility and respect. I respect how difficult this time is for many student-athletes, parents, alumni and coaches.

The public forum will take place on Monday, October 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Minnegan Room of Unitas Stadium Field House. The format and guidelines will be the same as the student forum. More information is available on the public forums page. Anyone unable to attend either of the forums may submit their comments on the website which we are continuing to monitor.

Thank you again for your respectful participation in this important process. I will continue to deliver updates on a weekly basis as new information becomes available.

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A Message from President Loeschke

October 19, 2012

This week the Athletics Task Force gathered independent information on Title IX, financial data, and the overall competitiveness of the athletics program. The task force also met with the coaches and student-athlete representatives of the men’s soccer and baseball teams and  heard their concerns and their proposed solutions to the three challenges: establishing long-term financial stability, achieving long-term proportionality, and increasing the competitiveness of the overall program. Any solution must resolve all three challenges.

The task force will hold open public forums on Tuesday, October 23, and Monday, October 29. These forums will allow interested parties to voice any concerns they have regarding this recommendation to the members of our task force. These forums are meant only for comments, and those with questions should refer to our newly updated frequently asked questions.

Please continue to submit your general inquiries and comments through the comments form. We will be responsive and disseminate new information through the website as it becomes available.

I appreciate and respect the wide array of perspectives and opinions on the athletics recommendations. Many of you understand the complexity of addressing not one, but all three of the challenges before us. I am confident that the task force will be thorough in their analysis, but will also move swiftly for an outcome that is in the best interest of all students and student-athletes for the long-term.

Thank you for your continued input and involvement as we work together to shape the future of Towson’s athletics program.

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A Message from President Loeschke

October 10, 2012


View the video message from Towson University President Maravene Loeschke on the proposed changes to Towson Athletics.


 

Last week, I shared the news of an athletics recommendation from Director of Athletics Mike Waddell to reinstate men’s tennis and discontinue men’s soccer and baseball.

In the past week, I have heard from a number of groups and individuals, faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, coaches, Hall of Fame members, donors, community members and friends.

But most importantly, I’ve heard directly from the student-athletes impacted directly by this recommendation. I had the chance to talk with members of the men’s soccer and baseball teams to hear their concerns, frustrations, and hopes for the future.

I am most respectful of the young men on our men’s soccer and baseball teams, and how they have conducted themselves. They have behaved with civility and respect during an extremely difficult week.

To each of those young men, I’m proud of how you are representing yourselves, your team, and this university.

Over the next weeks, the task force will receive feedback and review the recommendations.

Please continue to send your input directly to our comments form. The comments will be reviewed by the task force and by me.

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A Message from President Loeschke

October 2, 2012

On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, the President’s Council and I received a report from Director of Athletics Michael Waddell recommending a reconfiguration of the intercollegiate athletics program currently offered at Towson University.

The recommendation considered three guiding principles:

  1. Establish long-term financial stability of the athletics program;
  2. Increase the competitiveness of the athletics program;
  3. Maintain compliance with federal law concerning female-to-male athlete proportionality.

After a great deal of discussion and examination by Mr. Waddell and his senior leadership team, the report recommends the reinstatement of the men’s tennis program, the discontinuation of the university’s NCAA Division I sponsorship of the men’s soccer and baseball programs, and the roster expansions for select women’s teams. No other teams were recommended for discontinuation or reinstatement.


I respect the thought and care Mr. Waddell and his team put into this recommendation and its alignment with the economic challenges that institutions of higher education across the nation continue to face.


Our Towson University community holds a great deal of pride for our baseball and men’s soccer student-athletes and the legacy they have established with Towson University. I recognize how disappointing and difficult these discussions are for our student-athletes, alumni, families, supporters, and the entire campus community. In these challenging economic times, it is sometimes necessary to recommend approaches that, although troubling to many, may be in the best interest of long-term stability.

Next Steps


I have asked David Nevins ’76, chairman of the Towson University Board of Visitors, to lead an Athletics Task Force charged to provide an external review of the recommendation and receive input from on- and off-campus constituents. The task force will include the faculty athletics representative, student and alumni representatives, and additional members of the community. All input will be reviewed in the context of the three issues facing the athletics program: financial stability, competitiveness and compliance.

The task force will host a public forum on Monday, October 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Unitas Stadium Field House, Minnegan Room. There will be a forum for students to share their comments on Tuesday, October 23 from noon - 1:30 p.m. at the University Union, Chesapeake I.

Over the next month, I will keep the university community updated on the progress of the task force on a weekly basis. We have set up a form to accept comments about how we can continue to ensure the health and future of our athletics program. I will be monitoring all of the comments and concerns that are being shared in our community and through the website. I assure you, I am listening.


The task force will make their recommendation to me and I will announce my final decision by mid-November.

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FACT SHEET: Towson University Softball Stadium Project (PDF)

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