Friday, January 29, 2010

Duquesne blows it

How is it that an institution of educated individuals can be so clueless about handling difficult athletic situations? Duquesne University decided to cut four men's athletic programs, including wrestling, then tried to call it a retrenching.
Please try not to insult our intelligence when dealing with such unpleasant moves. Wrestling fans, in particular, are not falling for this crap because they've seen it happen before.
This was nothing more than an effort to come into compliance with Title IX, the civil rights legislation that requires an equal footing for men and women who participate in college athletics. Unfortunately, no one won with Duquesne's situation.
Male athletes were dealt a blow with the loss of swimming, baseball, golf and wrestling. Those athletes will most likely transfer to other programs after this school year. The coaches have little choice but to leave, too.
Women gain nothing other than a slight increase in funding from the revenue saved by cutting the men's sports. It's not a great day for Title IX advocates because the university's sleight of hand does not benefit women or women's programs.
Ah, but here's the rub. Duquesne has dramatically increased the percentage of women participating in athletics without the school having to add any programs. That's because there are fewer male athletes. Let's pop the cork on that, huh?
It's addition through subtraction, and that's not the intent of the legislation.
Of course, Duquesne handled this poorly, using a press release to make the announcement. How cold. If the university is going to squash the dreams of a hundred athletes, it could at least try be more compassionate. Put a live person in front of the microphone for a little gruel and sympathy.
Again, you are dealing with academicians, not public relation experts. They rarely get it right. Their reaction was to say nothing.
Athletic director Greg Amodio should have made himself available to the press, the athletes who were getting their dreams destroyed and the coaches whose careers were disintegrating. When he finally did comment, it was two days after a chorus of criticism streamed down from the media.
Just once, I would like an administrator to come out say what everyone knows. "Look, we don't like cutting these programs but we want to help our other programs survive and we want to be in compliance with Title IX because we feel it's important."
That would be the smart thing to do.
And that's exactly why it would never occur to Duquesne's administration that this would be the best way to handle this.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rick Majerus hates the Atlantic 10

St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus, pictured, doesn't like the Billikens being in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Last week, Majerus said playing in the A-10 is too much travel and too time-consuming for his players.

"We belong in the Missouri Valley Conference," Majerus said.

During the A-10 coaches' conference call this week, Majerus didn’t back down from his comments. He prefers St. Louis in another league.

Asked if he'd feel the same if St. Louis was in the Big East, Majerus said, "You wouldn’t have the money issues. You’d be chartering all your flights. And you’d have some relief where you’re going to DePaul, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame and then Pitt.

“I have no issue with the league except it’s an East Coast league. Look, the offices are in Newport News, Va. The supervisor of officials (former Duquesne coach Jim Satalin) is in Syracuse. The league tournament is in Atlantic City and the league meetings are in Naples, Fla. ... The problem is we’re in St. Louis, and there’s an arch there called The Gateway to the West.”

Majerus is right. St. Louis doesn't belong in the Atlantic 10. The Billikens are in the league only to give the A-10 the large St. Louis market. Schools such as Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason would be a better fit for the A-10.

Majerus, by the way, is a former brother-in-law of ex-Washington & Jefferson men's basketball coach Tom Reiter, who is an assistant athletic director at Purdue.

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Duquesne dropping 4 men's sports

Duquesne University is dropping four men’s varsity sports, a move that will shift more than $1 million annually into the athletic department’s other 16 sports.

Eliminating baseball, wrestling, men’s swimming and men’s golf will impact approximately 70 of the school’s estimated 475 varsity athletes. All athletes currently on scholarship will continue to receive their current funding until their eligibility is expired, or they will be assisted in transferring to other schools.

Four full-time coaches and one assistant will lose their jobs, although all will remain under contract through June.

"Focusing on and strengthening a core group of sports will maximize our ability to compete at the highest level, enhance the student-athlete experience and better utilize existing funding," Duquesne athletics director Greg Amodio said in a statement.

"This action is in no way meant to diminish the dedication, effort or ability of these fine student-athletes, coaches and alumni. They have contributed greatly to Duquesne athletics and to the vitality and history of the university."

Duquesne’s annual athletic department operating budget is $10.8 million.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Garber named PAC Athlete of Week

After going a 4-0 this past week, Waynesburg junior Nick Garber was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week.

This is the third such award for Garber this season. The Waynesburg High School graduate picked up the honor after putting an impressive display at the Washington & Lee Invitational on Saturday.

Garber (19-4) led the Yellow Jackets to their second straight team title by picking up three first-period pins, winning the 141-pound title, and being named Outstanding Wrestler. The title-clinching fall came in 1:11 over second-seeded Sam Campbell of Washington & Lee.

Garber, who has been ranked as high as second in Division III at 141, started the week with a 5-0 decision over McDaniel’s Mike Trancedi.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The 'P' must stand for Parity

Is the Presidents' Athletic Conference the best men's basketball league in NCAA Division III?

No. Not even close.

Will the national champion come from the PAC?

It's safe to say that it won't.

But what the PAC does have going for it is, it might be the most balanced league in the country.

For example, there were four games that counted in the standings last week (those involving Geneva and Saint Vincent do not count) and each was decided by four points or fewer.

If you throw in the Geneva and Saint Vincent games, nothing changes. Of the last 18 games matching PAC members, nine have been decided by four points or fewer, 10 by six points or less, and two went to overtime including W&J's triple-OT win over Westminster.

"This league is hard to figure out," Westminster coach Larry Ondako said recently.

Thomas More currently leads the PAC with a 5-1 record. Three of the Saints' last four wins have come by three points or less. W&J is in second place at 4-1, but the Presidents' last two games (both wins) were were by one point in triple overtime and by four points at last-place Waynesburg when the Yellow Jackets missed four shots in the final minute that would have given them the lead.

"It's a toss-up every night," W&J coach Glenn Gutierrez said. "You have to load up and be ready to go. Everyone in this league can beat everyone else. Home games are so critical. You have to protect your home court."

That's because each team wants to have home-court advantage when the PAC tournament begins. Nobody in the PAC can bank on getting an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament, so winning the PAC tournament will be the only route to the postseason for the conference.

"At one point, you would have said that Bethany is the best team in the conference," Gutierrez said. "They beat John Carroll by 22 on the road when John Carroll was ranked. But then Grove City beats Bethany by 11."

Thomas More's lone conference loss was to Grove City by five points in overtime, but the Wolverines lost to Thiel by 33.

"It's hard to tell who the best team in the conference is," Ondako said. "At this point in time, everyone is trying to figure out what they have until they get through the first half of the conference schedule and have played every team once. Then, in February, you want to be playing your best basketball."