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BSU to Cut Men’s Track

Budget Recalibration and Title IX Laws

Nick Ross | Sports & Outdoors Editor | 01/26/2011

The recalibration of Bemidji State will force the men’s indoor and outdoor track teams to disband after the 2011 season, as part of a full institutional budget cut, which will eliminate 39 faculty positions, four academic programs and the aforementioned track teams.

“We have decided to move out the men’s outdoor and indoor track teams,” said President Richard Hanson said on Thursday at an open forum.  “There are three reasons why: our compliance with Title IX, our conference membership in the NSIC and the third is the sports that we are required to maintain to be in Division 2 athletics.”

“Any time decisions like these have to be made, it is tough on our student athletes and entire Athletic Department,” said Dr. Rick Goeb, BSU’s director of athletics. “Especially when our student athletes are such outstanding role models and representatives of our University.  But in the light of the nation-wide financial crisis, the state’s budget deficit, the magnitude of the estimated reduction to University’s funding allocations, program cuts are unavoidable.”

The student body was meant to hear of the cuts on Thursday the 20, but due to word of mouth, many students attended the forum already knowing what was to be said of the track program.  Both the men’s and women’s track teams were in attendance to attempt to save the men’s track team, again, for the second time in three years.

“It is a permanent decision, and can not be overturned,” Hanson told a student at the forum who asked if students could raise funds to save the team.

In the fall of 2008, the men’s track team was threatened with disbandment due to lack of funding, and has self-sustained themselves for the past two seasons by raising $30,000 each year.

Title IX is a bill that was passed in 1972, with the purpose of ending discrimination of gender in sports.  The bill requires any organization with federal or state funding to provide the same amount of opportunities in both sports for men and women.

“We are working to become compliant with Title IX, and we still have a ways to go,” Hanson said at the press conference after the forum.  “There is a separation between the budget problem and the Title IX problem, and we are well out of alignment, the and we would have [cut track] anyways.”

However, this issue was not made clear prior to the faculty forum, in which Craig Hougen, the men’s and women’s track team coach addressed Hanson and his fellow faculty.

“The money that BSU will save by cutting the track team is less than the cost to hold one game of hockey,” said Hougen. He went on to refer to the track team as a “sacrificial lamb.”

Hougen has been the coach of both the men and women track teams for the past 20 years, has seen multiple All-Americans in both gender track teams and has coached a handful of national and NSIC champions.

“I think that it’s really sad that a team with very successful athletes ended up getting cut,” said Courtney Anderson, a junior on the BSU softball team after the forum.

BSU is not the only school in a budget crisis that is affecting athletics.  Just this past fall, St. Cloud State was very close to cutting their football program, due to their deficit.

“It is very unfortunate,” said senior baseball player Joe Chism. “I feel for everyone that is involved.  I know it’s not fun when a big part of you is in some sort of way taken from you.  My gratitude is definitely there for all parties involved especially for a program in which has had success in past and recent years.”

The track team will compete this year for the 2011 indoor and outdoor season, and will disband before next season.  Any participants under scholarship will remain under the scholarship if they choose to stay at BSU.  If they do not choose to stay, any athletic transferring penalties will be nullified.

BSU will still offer 15 varsity intercollegiate sports, 13 will be at the Division 2 level, and two will be at the Division 1 level.