To the Editor,
As you know from The Lawrentian, the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee recommended this past fall that we change the status of our men’s golf program from a varsity to a club sport. This committee, composed of faculty and athletic coaches, chaired by James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama Kathy Privatt, based their proposal on a recommendation by an ad hoc task force of faculty, students and staff convened two years ago to develop ways of improving our athletic program and the student athlete experience at Lawrence.
Their recommendation was based on four points: 1) men’s golf draws few students to Lawrence; 2) the experience provided by a club program would be similar to the experience provided by a varsity program; 3) eliminating golf has no negative impact on our efforts to conform with the federal Title IX policy which requires educational institutions to offer equal access to both male and female students; and 4) resources saved by the change could be effectively reallocated within the Athletics department in a way that would enhance the experience we provide to over 300 varsity athletes. The recommenders also recognized that we field 22 varsity teams, more than all but one member of our athletic conference. As one of the smallest schools in our conference, a smaller program could improve the experience we offer. The faculty unanimously endorsed this recommendation at their meeting in October.
According to shared governance, this is a presidential decision and I want to thank the many students, faculty, staff and alumni I spoke with during Fall Term to hear their counsel. The vast majority of the people I spoke with supported this decision—even though many had the same concern I did: that this decision would negatively impact the members of the team who are not seniors.
With this counsel, I have decided to change the status of our men’s golf program from varsity to club, effective fall of 2016. Savings from this change will be reallocated by the department to support other varsity activities. I understand from Mike Szkodzinski, our athletic director, that he intends to use the funds to hire a full-time strength and conditioning coach who will support all of our student athletes. I will also transfer funds to Wellness and Recreation to support the core activities of a club golf program. I hope the new club golf program will be able to reach more male and female students, and the full-time strength and conditioning coach will provide a valuable resource to our varsity student athletes.
Mark Burstein, President