No sports teams to be cut from UNCW - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

UNCW Board of Trustees members concerned about paying for sports programs

Chancellor Gary Miller announced no sports teams at UNCW will be cut at this time. Chancellor Gary Miller announced no sports teams at UNCW will be cut at this time.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller announced Thursday morning that no sports teams will be cut at this time.

This announcement comes on the heels of recent recommendations to eliminate the UNCW men's indoor track/cross country, men's and women's swimming/diving and softball teams.

According to the official report the Intercollegiate Athletic Review Committee's recommendations would have saved the department $800,000 annually.

When the initial recommendations were made, students, staff and community members rallied to fight the proposed cuts.

Miller was aware of the rallies and listened to the opinions.

"It's clear to me that there is a great passion for Seahawk athletics and future successes," said Miller.

Miller said Thursday he made his decision based on the community support of these teams. He is depending on the community to continue with financial support to keep the teams running via donations and buying tickets.

"Eliminating any sports program is a last resort, because it removes any opportunities for gifted students at UNCW," said Miller.

Miller met with the Board of Trustees after the announcement Thursday morning.

If the board agrees, Miller said he will ask the newly elected chair to appoint an Athletic Advisory Committee composed of members of the board to focus attention in a more consistent way on the Seahawk Athletic program during the 2013-14 school year.

Miller plans to direct the Athletic Director and Vice Chancellor for University Advancement to develop a comprehensive performance-based fundraising plan to include:

• A benchmarked, targeted membership strategy for the Seahawk Club emphasizing scholarship endowment growth and sports-specific giving.

• A prioritized, facilities focused major gift strategy.

• In conjunction with the Office of Community Partnerships, an outreach strategy focused on providing opportunities for community members, including school children and not-for-profit groups to enjoy Seahawk Athletics.

• A performance-based program of coach involvement in community outreach and resource development.

Miller went on to tell the Board of Trustees he will direct the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs and the Athletic Director to develop a plan for all recreational, intramural, and athletic facilities and spaces that meets shared needs of academics, student recreation, athletics, and the community.

Linda Pearce, who chairs Board of Trustees, said the board was happy the sports were saved; however, board members are concerned about paying for the programs.

"We're delighted to be able to do it but we still have to figure this thing out. It's a beast that is growing each day. We have to figure out how to get on top of it. The public is going to have to help but I'm concerned the public can't do it all. We're going to really have to find folks who can help us out," said Pearce.

Pearce indicated that some private investors have come forward to Chancellor Miller and offered to donate to the athletic programs. However, she did not know who those investors were or the exact figure that is being offered.

As early as 2010, a routine audit of the athletic department noted that its leaders should create and maintain long term financial plans to ensure stability and continuity of operations. In a follow up review in October of 2012, another report noted that improvements had been made but there was no way to track progress. The report also said it was unlikely that the athletics department would be able to maintain their current operations without the addition of new revenue streams.

This information was echoed in the IARC report, which found that the department had been operating a deficit for the past four years and had seen their fund balance shrink by over 80%. The University is anticipating a 600,000 shortfall for this year.

Meantime, Miller plans to direct the Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs and the Athletic Director to develop a comprehensive facilities condition assessment for current athletic facilities and to identify needed improvements or additions. They also will be charged with continued identification of any remaining efficiencies in operations or potential expenditures reductions.

Leaders at UNCW will work on the objectives in an effort to gain funding for these athletic programs. Officials will re-evaluate the cost of these programs in the future.

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