Why is now the right time for the University to make this decision?
The University has undergone multiple reviews of its intercollegiate athletics programs over the past several years. The reviews and data analysis led to discussions between the Chancellor and several campus administrators who impact the institution, both in the short and long terms. The Chancellor’s decision to implement this action is being taken now to help the University right-size the athletic program in order to align more closely with financial resources and the NCAA Division III sports sponsorship average.
What factors went into the decision?
Several key areas were analyzed during the process, including gender equity, enrollment, full-time/part-time coaches, sport sponsorship trends at the regional and national levels, facilities, and program strengths/weaknesses. Discussions about the immediate, short-term, and long-range strategic plans of the University also weighed into this decision, with key emphasis on sustainability, economic viability, and overall quality experience.
How many student-athletes and staff are affected by the decision?
A total of 94 student-athletes are directly impacted by the decision. Additionally, seven head coaches and seven assistant coaches are affected. The University’s Office of Human Resources will work with those staff members.
When will the decision go into effect, and how will it impact student-athletes and coaches in those programs?
As stated by the Chancellor, the decision is effective immediately. For student-athletes who decide to transfer, we will help them in the transition. The same will be true for our coaches.
Where will the resources from the discontinued programs go?
Resources previously allocated to the programs being discontinued will be redistributed within the Department of Athletics & Recreation to strengthen areas that benefit the remaining teams. As a result of discussions with student-athletes along with information obtained from student-athlete surveys, the following improvements have been set as high priorities: transportation and team travel, parking, academic support, and access to full-time coaches.
Were other sports considered for discontinuation?
The University thoroughly evaluated multiple options, taking into consideration several factors, including long-term academic and athletic success, financial sustainability, gender equity, and conference membership requirements. Consideration and respect were given to each program’s history, tradition, alumni, and support.
Will these programs be sponsored at the club level by the University?
All club sponsorship decisions are made by the Division of Student Affairs. As with all such institutional groups, a review would be conducted by that office should it receive a request to form a respective club or organization.
Could these programs be funded and supported by alumni and/or fundraising efforts?
No. That is not the University’s intent, since it would not be a long-term solution in most cases, unless a program were to be endowed. Though other institutions have taken that approach as a short-term strategy, the University will not engage in that action.
Did the University consider waiting to discontinue the impacted sports until the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year rather than immediately?
The Chancellor determined that there was no need to prolong the decision; and now is the time to right-size the number of intercollegiate sports sponsored by the University.
What is the transfer process, should UMass Dartmouth student-athletes wish to continue competing in their discontinued sports at other institutions?
Student-athletes who wish to transfer to another institution should contact the University’s Athletic Compliance Office for assistance. Since UMass Dartmouth competes as an NCAA Division III member, individuals have the option of completing a Self-Release Form which can be sent to another Division III institution. Furthermore, the Athletic Department will establish a blanket waiver allowing affected student-athletes to communicate with other institutions immediately. Future athletic eligibility as a transfer student-athlete will be determined by UMass Dartmouth Athletics, based upon years of competition and academic standing when departing campus.
Will this decision be reconsidered in the future?
There is no plan to reconsider this decision. With the landscape of higher education and intercollegiate sports changing, it is difficult to determine what the future holds. However, the University’s intercollegiate athletics program will continue to undergo periodic analysis to determine if the interests of our student body are being met, including issues of gender equity.
What will the University do to help impacted student-athletes?
In addition to the Department of Athletics & Recreation, several University offices are ready to provide services to all student-athletes impacted by the decision. The Office of Student Affairs will provide counseling and information through various departments.Additional information can be accessed from the Office of Financial Aid as well as the Office of the Registrar for questions about future studies.
How does this decision affect the University’s Title IX status?
A significant criterion in this decision was its impact on gender equity and Title IX, a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The University continues to be committed to monitoring and improving equity across the board.
Did the ongoing COVID-19 crisis impact this decision?
A department review was well underway prior to the financial impact caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis.
How will the University engage donors to honor their wishes regarding donations, endowments, or planned gifts to discontinued programs?
The University’s Advancement Office will assist donors regarding affected gift agreements. It is our sincere hope that contributions will be redirected to continue benefitting student-athletes and/or other areas within the Department of Athletics.
What is the average number of sport programs offered by NCAA Division III institutions?
The NCAA Division III institutional sponsorship average is 19 sports. With UMass Dartmouth sponsoring 17 intercollegiate programs, we will align more closely with the national average.