On February, 20, 2009, in response to the need for budget cuts, the University of Vermont athletic department chose to eliminate the varsity baseball and softball programs after the 2008-2009 academic year.
Each of the programs has been a loyal mainstay on baseball and softball scenes within the state, as well in department lore. Baseball was the first program started at the university and consistently has one of the highest amount of native Vermonters on its roster.
We the signers of this petition protest the decision of the University of Vermont to cut these programs, and demand for a more transparent public disclosure of facts and data, as well as a public forum to air these grievances. We also call for the reinstatement of these programs through rapid exploration of alternative plans in order to maintain the integrity of the university and all parties concerned.
We the signers pledge that until these demands have been met, the University of Vermont shall not receive any monetary donations from us. We pledge this in the spirit of the student-athletes and coaches whose lives are adversely affected by this grave decision.
As parents and friends of the student-athletes affected by the recent decision to eliminate the University of Vermont%u2019s baseball and softball programs after this coming season, we have outlined for you the reasons we feel certain the decision is flawed. We are asking for your assistance to promptly rescind the decision before the both programs are irreparably harmed.
While the reason is still unknown, it is apparent to us that there was a %u201Crush to judgment%u201D regarding the elimination of the programs. This is evidenced by the following: 1.) As recently as two weeks prior to the announcement to end the Baseball program, the Athletic Department was looking into adding funds for the program; 2.) Athletic Director Dr. Corran did not seek input from the team coaches nor did he provide the opportunity for them to challenge the facts upon which he based his decision; and 3.) Dr. Corran and President Fogel have misrepresented the facts to the press and the public regarding the cost of the early-Spring trips made by the Baseball team to warm-weather locations, stating it as one of the reasons for ending the program. These points are all signs of a hastily-made decision, and one made based on erroneous information.
There has been a stunning lack of transparency thus far about the facts which led to the decision. Despite our requests for the information, Dr. Corran has not provided the comparison data. This is information that should have been provided at the time the program cuts were announced. We are very interested in the costs attributed to the baseball and softball programs versus other UVM sports because we feel certain the financial facts will not support the decision made. Transparency is a doctrine all state entities should subscribe to, and it is disappointing to see the University of Vermont resist this.
If the financial facts truly determined the fate of the baseball and softball programs, we question whether Dr. Corran and his staff offset program costs with the donor-designated funds for items such as team trips to warm-weather locations. We know from Dr. Corran%u2019s comments to the television media, he didn%u2019t take this into consideration. In addition, funds received from host teams should also have been used to offset costs %u2013 we%u2019d like to know if this was done. Any financial comparisons performed should have been analyzed on a net-cost basis %u2013 we feel certain it was not (based on Corran%u2019s own comments).
We believe the savings estimated by Dr. Corran and his staff by eliminating both programs are overstated. The estimates do not include the negative impact of lost tuition dollars. The Baseball team currently has only seven (7) scholarships to offer, yet has a roster of 28 student-athletes. Without a Baseball program, most of the remaining 21 paying (or partially paying) students will not be enrolling at UVM any longer. Even at in-state tuition rates, that%u2019s lost tuition revenue of approximately $273,000 per year. In addition, there%u2019s no telling how much will be lost in the way of donations from disenchanted donors who have supported baseball, softball and UVM over the years.
Baseball has a long and rich tradition at UVM, going back to its first season in 1888. Softball was one of the pioneer sports at UVM after Title IX legislation opened the door for women in sports. They are sports most young men and women in Vermont play as they%u2019re growing up. Baseball is a sport played in virtually every high school in Vermont and, over the years, each team has had a good representation of Vermonters on its roster. The Baseball program has a coach with a 22-year consistent record for producing competitive teams with a small budget. The softball program has a young, exuberant and determined coach that can spell future success for the program.
As bad as the economy is at this time, history tells us that things will eventually turn around. With this in mind, careful thought should be given to the cost and difficulty of re-starting a baseball or softball program at UVM. Recruiting coaches the caliber of Bill Currier and Tarrah Beyster for a new start-up program is highly unlikely and recruiting quality players into a start-up program will be extremely difficult as well. The question is: If we looked at the decision to eliminate baseball and softball based on a three- to five-year outlook, would we come to the same conclusion about the real cost of ending (and eventually re-starting) the program? We believe the longer-term viewpoint deserves consideration, too, especially for an institution that%u2019s been around since 1791.
And now to the final and most important point %u2013 the student-athletes affected by this decision. The University should take pause to consider the impact this decision has on the lives of these student-athletes caught in the cross-fire. These young men and women made a commitment to these sports exclusively for a university with a long tradition, and now UVM is backing out on its end of the commitment. Dreams have been shattered. These young men and women now face the uncertainty of trying to find another college program willing to take them.
For the sake of these young men and women, our plea to you is: please look into the facts that led to the decision to cut the baseball and softball programs. If these are indeed two of the most costly sports at UVM, we may not like it, but we can accept it. If baseball is NOT the most costly sport, we demanding an explanation from the Athletic Director about the rationale for his decision through a public forum and, if not satisfied, to demand that the baseball and softball programs be reinstated.
We thank you for your time and consideration. If you can, we would appreciate hearing back from you.