Mount St. Mary's to cut men's, women's golf teams
Barely six months have passed since the Mount St. Mary’s men’s golf team claimed its first Northeast Conference Championship title in program history. Four players finished inside the top 7 on the leaderboard that day, two of whom returned to the roster this fall. It’s safe to say none of those players could have guessed that two years later, Mount St. Mary’s wouldn’t even field a team in that championship.
Members of the men’s and women’s golf teams at the Division I school in Emmitsburg, Md., were told Nov. 12 that the university would cut their programs, effective next fall, as part of a budget crunch. Men’s soccer also will be eliminated at Mount St. Mary’s. According to a press release issued by the university, the decision will save The Mount more than $400,000 annually.
“This is a decision we didn’t want to make, but the budget realities require it to protect and re-invest in our remaining Division I programs,” University President Thomas H. Powell said in the release. “In recent years, we have made a concerted effort to enhance our elite academic programs and robust Catholic identity. This decision allows us to enhance the remaining programs for future athletic success.”
Mount St. Mary’s will continue to compete in 16 other intercollegiate sports as men’s and women’s golf and men’s soccer are shifted into “club sports” beginning in the fall of 2013. For the underclassmen on those rosters, a tough decision lies ahead. Opportunities remain to transfer to another school for the coming year, but as junior and team captain Kevin Ellison notes, the liberal arts curriculum at Mount St. Mary’s makes that tough.
“I’ve spent my last three years here,” Ellison said. “It would be pretty hard to start over.”
Since hearing the news on Monday – student-athletes were informed by email on Sunday evening that there would be a meeting the following day – Ellison said the team has been “trying to console each other and get through the confusion.” He said the team felt blindsided by the news, especially since everything happened within 24 hours.
The university didn’t present students with an opportunity to fundraise on its own, but Ellison said he and his teammates have started a petition to bring the team back, written letters to the administration and contacted Mount St. Mary’s golf alumni.
“I think mostly the frustration is from the juniors on down,” Ellison said, referencing two international team members who played a big role in the 2012 Northeast Conference Championship title. The Mount ended the fall ranked No. 268 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Sixteen players are listed on the men’s and women’s golf rosters, and coaches Scott and Colyn Keller also work at Quail Valley Golf Course, the Mount’s home golf course in nearby Littlestown, Pa. Former head coach Kevin Farrell left Mount St. Mary’s at the end of last spring to take over the men’s golf program at Bowling Green State.
Senior Nikki Fazio, the women’s team captain, echoed Ellison’s frustration and disappointment.
“Everyone was really shocked at first,” she said. “We had no idea it was coming. It was very unexpected.”
Fazio and her teammates also are working to reverse the decision, even though they have been told it is final. She said student-athletes around campus have shown support.
Fazio isn’t sure what her younger teammates will do. They love the campus, she says, “but golf has always been such a big part of their lives.” As the men’s team has enjoyed increased success, Fazio said it was only a matter of time until the women’s team followed suit. The teams play and practice together, and Fazio could tell the women were making strides.
“We were really excited we were growing our program,” she said.