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President Loh's Statement to the University of Maryland Community: Report from the President's Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

Last July, I formed the President's Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to review the finances and operations of Maryland's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The charge was to make recommendations to secure greater excellence in academics and athletics and to ensure financial sustainability.

I received the Commission's report on Friday, November 11. It makes recommendations on raising revenues and reducing expenses. Most regretfully, the report recommends the reduction of six varsity programs, a total of eight teams. The prospect of reducing teams has been discussed in past years, but it makes it no less painful. As I read the report, my thoughts were on the student-athletes and coaches of these teams, individuals who have dedicated so much of their lives to competing and coaching in their chosen sport at the highest level. As the parent of a student-athlete, I understand the very real anguish this recommendation occasions.

Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has personally told student-athletes and coaches of the affected programs about the Commission's recommendations. This is a difficult time for them, a situation not of their doing. They are among Maryland's most outstanding ambassadors and their contributions on and off the field have helped make this University what it is today.

I have provided the Commission's report to the University Senate Executive Committee and to the Athletic Council. I have asked for their response to the report by Friday, November 18. I have also asked Director Anderson for his response.

The complete report has been placed on the University's website at www.president.umd.edu/PCIA/. The aforementioned three sets of responses will also be posted on this website. I welcome your comments and suggestions via email at president@umd.edu. I also appreciate all the messages I have received since the beginning of this process.

Since June, when I first learned of the budget challenges facing the Athletics Department, I have worked with Director Anderson and others to address them. The Commission has worked independently, but has briefed me periodically on its progress. I have met personally with the coaches of some of the affected teams, at their request. I will meet this week with the coaches of the other affected teams. I will also meet with all the affected student-athletes to hear directly from them.

I recognize that the recommendation to reduce the number of intercollegiate sports is distressing and saddening to the student-athletes, their families, coaches, and supporters. My intention is to not unduly draw out this time of uncertainty. However, this is a most difficult situation that demands the most careful consideration.

I thank the 17-member Commission and its two co-chairs, Linda Clement and Barry Gossett, for the substantial time, effort, and thought they have invested in the diligent performance of this demanding and sensitive undertaking.

A first-rate athletic program is a vital part of a first-rate University. And so, to the Terrapin family everywhere, I pledge this to you: I will work with the Athletics Department to ensure continued excellence both academically and athletically, and to provide the very best experience and support for our student-athletes. They deserve nothing less.

Thank you for your continuing support of our student-athletes, our athletic program, and the University of Maryland.

Wallace D. Loh
President
University of Maryland