Delaware State University announced today that it will eliminate two sports programs to address budgetary issues and to help the institution’s other athletics programs become more competitive within its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
The University will drop the Men’s Tennis and Women’s Equestrian programs at the end of the 2009-2010 athletics year. The University will continue to honor its financial commitment to the student-athletes who are impacted by this decision and will assist those interested in transferring to another institution of higher education.
The DSU athletics budget is approximately $12 million during the current 2009-2010 athletics year – the largest budget among institutions within the conference. DSU Athletics Director Derek Carter said that the Board of Trustees has recommended that the athletics budget be reduced to a level that is more comparable with the top teams in the MEAC.
“The five MEAC institutions that are below DSU in what they spend on athletics all have budgets that are $8 to $9 million this year,” said Mr. Carter. “Couple that with the tough economic times that this University is facing, it is impossible to justify such a disparity between DSU and the other top institutions’ athletics spending.”
Mr. Carter said that DSU regrets the impact this decision will have on the affected student athletes. “We know today’s announcement is not good news for our Men’s Tennis and Equestrian team members, their dedicated coaches and their faithful supporters,” the DSU athletics director said. “While we hope that the student-athletes from the affected teams will continue to attend DSU, we will understand if they decide to transfer to another institution and are prepared to assist them any way we can.”
The DSU athletics director said he recommended making the announcement at this time to give the student-athletes as much opportunity as possible to weigh their future directions.
The elimination of Men’s Tennis and Women’s Equestrian will reduce the number of DSU intercollegiate athletics teams to 15. In 2009, the University dropped its wrestling program. There are no plans to eliminate any additional DSU sports programs at this time, Mr. Carter said.
DSU President Harry L. Williams said while the decision to drop the programs “was extremely difficult,” it is nevertheless consistent with his vision of excellence for the overall athletics program at DSU.
“We want all of DSU’s athletics teams to be competitive and win championships in the MEAC. But it is impossible to support all our teams toward that end with a budget that is spread too thin,” said Dr. Williams. “While it is not a decision we wanted to make, we are confident that it is in the best interest of the overall athletics program and the University as a whole.”
Dr. Williams added that as a founding member of the MEAC, Delaware State University has an obligation to continually strive to be a strongly competitive institution within the conference. “This reduction in the number of sports programs helps DSU continue to be a strong permanent partner of the MEAC,” the DSU President said.
Mr. Carter said that the elimination of the two sports will save the University almost $700,000. He said he will be recommending other cost saving measures that can be implemented to enable the athletics budget to most effectively support the remaining 15 DSU sports programs.
Both the University’s Men’s Tennis and the Women’s Equestrian teams will continue to compete in their respective remaining 2009-2010 seasons.
DSU will continue to field and support its remaining 15 NCAA Division I sport programs. Those include the women’s sports of basketball, bowling, cross country, indoor and outdoor track, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball, as well as the men’s sports of basketball, football, indoor and outdoor track, baseball and cross country.
All of the remaining DSU intercollegiate teams compete in the MEAC with the exception of the women’s soccer team, which plays in the Great West Conference.