Sports Mailbag: 1/31/10

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Cutting programs is 'unconscionable'

Duquesne's decision to drop four sports is not about saving money. It's not about low participation; it has 83 student/athletes on the rosters of the four sports being eliminated. And this isn't about Title IX, although it played a part in which sports to cut.

This is about marketing Duquesne, the WVU model and Nick Saban. Duquesne athletic director [Greg Amodio] is not a former coach but a sports marketing specialist. Football and basketball programs are the high visibility programs at NCAA Division I institutions. WVU diverted athletic department money to its three high-visibility programs from four or five dropped sports a few years back and today the football and basketball teams are nationally ranked and alumni donations are at an all-time high. In 2007, Alabama gave Nick Saban a $4 million salary, added another $2.5 million for his coaching staff and pumped even more into football facilities to establish a new extreme in football spending. It raised the price tag for its high-visibility sports.

The reality is that dropping four sports at Duquesne is all about making sure there is enough money to maximize the scholarships and pay the coaches of the high-profile sports.

RON CHRISTMAN, Washington, Pa.
Ron Christman is the tennis coach at Waynesburg College.

Feeling for the athletes

The decision by Duquesne University to eliminate four sports is unconscionable.

The explanation is that this will save $1 million. Considering what Duquesne charges for tuition, $1 million is a blip on the radar screen.

The students affected were made a promise, and as NCAA Division I athletes, they could have chosen to go anywhere. Duquesne made a commitment to these athletes and their families. To not honor that commitment is unfair and unjust.

The baseball team recently recruited four players for the 2011 season. These players were recruited under false pretenses. My heart goes out to the players and coaches who have made these programs successful. The players who this will adversely affect the most are the sophomores and juniors because now their collegiate athletic careers are all but over. Hopefully, their hard work and dedication will pay off in another capacity.

LOUISE BRADLEY, McCandless

Decision handled poorly

I would like to formally request Duquesne University athletic director Greg Amodio to step down. For him not to hold a quick press conference, not to take calls from parents and for him to be "out of town" during a major announcement of [this sort] is mind-blowing. [This] is a slap in the face to not only the 70 student-athletes and their parents but to the university and Western Pennsylvania sports.

TY BOYER, Ross Township

Title IX to blame

It was sad to learn that Duquesne University is dropping four men's athletic programs. Although the news story notes that Title IX may or may not have played a role, this misapplied legislation has resulted in lost scholarships and broken dreams for thousands of athletes across the country. If this decision was not driven by Title IX, then what exactly do they mean by "an effort to maximize financial resources and ensure sustained athletic success" since no women's teams were cut?

Title IX was a necessary and noble piece of legislation when first enacted. Women's sports had suffered from generations of sexism and silly ideas about women's limited athletic capabilities. Thankfully we know more now. Including this:

The purpose of Title IX was not to eliminate men's teams, but to improve the scholarship and athletic opportunities for women. Unfortunately, this law was misapplied from the beginning. The notion of forced levels of participation has proven to be ridiculous. Some schools simply do not have enough female students who are interested or qualified. So Title IX has brought equality through a negative dynamic of eliminating men's teams, rather than a positive dynamic of nurturing more opportunities for women.

It's time to change and strengthen Title IX. It needs a mechanism to survey the viability of application at an individual school from year to year. "One size fits all" has proven to be disastrous, and deeply unfair to male student-athletes.

H. SCOTT PROSTERMAN, Berkeley, Calif.
H. Scott Prosterman worked in the swimming equipment business in Pittsburgh in the 1990s and serviced swim teams throughout Western PA, including the Duquesne swim team.

Maz statue a nice distraction

I was delighted to learn that the Pirates will have a statue in honor of Bill Mazeroski, the man who was the critical piece in bringing the region what is arguably its most improbable and sweetest sports victory -- a triumph against the almost-unbeatable New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series.

It is particularly important that the Pirates celebrate and remember such moments because the current trajectory of the team would indicate that such joy shall not occur again.

The economics of baseball make it virtually impossible for the Pirates to sign talented free agents who will help the team and fill seats at PNC Park for games without promotions.

Perhaps the statue of Maz and reminiscences of the golden era of baseball will help to divert fans' attention from our current and seemingly unending plight.

OREN M. SPIEGLER, Upper St. Clair





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