Chancellor Johnson provides an important update on changes within the Department of Athletics & Recreation
Dear UMassD community,
I am writing to announce important changes to our Department of Athletics & Recreation.
The decision came after multiple reviews of the intercollegiate athletics program over the past decade. To provide our student-athletes with an exceptional experience, these reviews focused on the areas of sports sponsorship, as well as all areas of department organization. The reviews analyzed major aspects of the department, including available resources, gender equity, enrollment, full-time/part-time coaches, sports sponsorship trends, facilities, as well as strengths and weaknesses of programs.
Intercollegiate athletics provide valuable leadership opportunities for our students and contribute significantly to the vibrancy of our campus. However, our current composition is not sustainable moving forward. With 25 intercollegiate athletic programs, UMass Dartmouth has the second-highest number of offerings in the Little East Conference and this has hindered our ability to effectively support all our student-athletes and teams. The average number of sports offered by NCAA Division III institutions is 19.
Considering this reality, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that UMass Dartmouth will discontinue eight intercollegiate athletic programs. Effective immediately, the University will no longer sponsor women’s equestrian, men’s golf, men’s lacrosse, co-ed sailing, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s tennis.
Although these changes will serve UMass Dartmouth Athletics and its student body well for years to come, I cannot begin to imagine the sense of loss our student-athletes must feel at this moment. I want them to know that this decision in no way reflects their tremendous contribution to our University. It is because of these contributions – not just on the field – but in the classrooms, labs, and in the community that makes our student-athletes such valuable members of our community. It should be noted this process began before COVID-19 and is in no way related to the current health crisis.
Our top priority this summer will be to provide support and advising to affected students. Announcing these changes now provides our current and newly recruited student-athletes’ much-needed flexibility to consider their options.
Our incoming and current student-athletes will have the opportunity to join live Zoom sessions with Athletics staff, colleagues in Student Affairs, and other support staff to ask questions and learn more about this decision. Human Resources is also committed to supporting our coaches during this difficult time. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions website for additional information.
UMass Dartmouth is committed to the remaining Athletics program and will be maintaining its current operational budget. The savings realized because of these changes will be allocated strategically within the Department and reinvested in the remaining athletic programs. Our expectation is this will lead to a more sustainable future.
This decision was not made lightly, and I understand the impact it will have for students and their families, for alumni of our teams and our coaches. The University will continue to support our Athletics Department in every way possible as we navigate this transition together.
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.