Temple Axes 7 Sports Programs, Athletes Shocked by Decision

School says it plans to funnel the money towards its Olympic sports programs

By Karen Araiza, Vince Lattanzio and Alison Burdo
|  Friday, Dec 6, 2013  |  Updated 11:13 PM EDT
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Temple University announced Friday that they were cutting seven sports programs. NBC10's LuAnn Cahn has more.

NBC10, LuAnn Cahn

Temple University announced Friday that they were cutting seven sports programs. NBC10's LuAnn Cahn has more.

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Temple University confirmed today that it is dropping seven sports in 2014 in an effort to concentrate on its Olympic sports programs.

The school is shutting down baseball, softball, men's crew, men's gymnastics, men's outdoor and indoor track and field, women's softball and women's rowing -- affecting 150 students and nine full-time coaches. With the reduction, Temple will go from 24 varsity sports to 17.

"Temple does not have the resources to equip, staff, and provide a positive competitive experience for 24 varsity sports. Continuing this model does a disservice to our student-athletes," Kevin G. Clark, vice president and director of athletics, said in a statement on the school's website.

"We need to have the right-sized program to create a sustainable model for Temple University Athletics moving forward," he said.

Temple says the reduction would put the school in line with other universities in The American Athletic Conference, which the school participates.

Clark notified the affected student-athletes of the decision during a meeting on Friday. One student, who recorded part of the announcement and posted it to YouTube, can be heard crying as he spoke.

Derek Peterson, senior captain and third baseman on Temple's baseball team, was also in attendance.

"I was obviously really hurt. It is an issue that is bigger than me personally," the 22-year-old said of the announcement. "The baseball program has had a lot of success here and there has been a team since the 1920s. There is a long legacy of baseball tradition here."

Peterson says the team will get the opportunity to one final season this upcoming spring semester. Though, he and his teammates have already begun discussing ways to save the sport from  disbandment.

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“It is more about empowering them to achieve victory, but this time it is not on the field," he said. "Every unfortunate event also leaves an incredible opportunity and I think we are pursing ways that we can achieve that, just as we would if it was the college World Series."

School administrators cite program costs, crumbling and outdated facilities and Title IX regulations that require male and female athletes to be treated equally as reasons for the planned cut. Officials say they made the decision after conducting a seven-month long study.

Temple's boathouse, which stood along the banks of the Schuylkill River and was owned by the city, was condemned more than five years ago. Tents were constructed to hold the rowing equipment, but a winter storm crushed the structure and damaged equipment.

The university announced plans to build a new boathouse in March 2012, but those plans were withdrawn in the spring of this year. A Temple spokesman said a new boathouse would have required a $10 million investment.

Junior Erin Matz, a 20-year-old coxswain on the school's rowing team, says although she can't compete her senior year, she plans to stay at Temple.

"I still see myself as a Temple Owl. I’m going to graduate from Temple," she said. "I hope to still be able to row. Maybe for a club or something. That's the hard part, going into my senior year and not being able to compete with my teammates for my school."

The school said it plans to honor student scholarships until the athletes graduate and that it would also help student-athletes who want to transfer.

The last time Temple cut programs was in 1986, when it eliminated eight sports.

Temple alum Allan Malone was a part of the men's gymnastics team during his time at the school's North Philadelphia campus. He called the decision "madness."

"One of the main factors in choosing Temple was because of the gymnastics program," he said. "The athletes of Temple University are a family. And this family will stand by each other and see to it that all members of the family stay put."

As for the school choosing to focus its efforts on larger programs, Peterson says there's no bad blood.

“It is not us versus them. This whole athletic department is one big family since I got here," he said.

Here's social media reaction from Temple students:

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