PHILADELPHIA -- Temple announced Friday that it will reduce the number of its intercollegiate athletic programs by seven, effective July 1, 2014. The action will mean a better and more sustainable experience for its remaining student-athletes and bring Temple into line with most other schools in the American Athletic Conference.
Affected by the action are baseball, men’s crew, men's gymnastics, men's outdoor track & field and men's indoor track & field; as well as two women’s sports: softball and rowing. The action brings Temple's total from 24 to 17 varsity sports. Members of the American field between 16 and 19 varsity sports, except for Connecticut, which has 24.
The decision is the result of a seven-month detailed analysis of Temple's athletics situation. The analysis looked at the athletics budget and its ongoing expectations for support; the facilities currently being used and how much it would cost to upgrade them; a detailed comparison with other universities in the American Athletic Conference; and comparisons with other institutions of higher education similar to Temple.
Temple's mission is to provide its student-athletes with the high quality experience they deserve, but with the rising costs of doing business in intercollegiate athletics it has become impossible to achieve that mission for 24 varsity programs, said Temple Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin Clark. With limited funds and growing needs, this was a difficult choice that had to be made, he said.
“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," Clark explained. "We need to have the right-sized program to create a sustainable model for Temple Athletics moving forward."
With operating costs rising, University budgets tightening and a growing need to improve or replace outdated Olympic facilities, this difficult decision was inevitable, Clark said.
"Reducing the number of sports will mean Athletics can invest more into the student-athletes, staff and facilities for the remaining Olympic sports, and offer the best possible learning and competitive environment,” Clark said.
Clark said the decision was being announced now to give student-athletes as much time as possible to consider their options and plan their next steps. The university has granted blanket written permission for coaches from other institutions to contact student-athletes about transfers. Temple will help students transfer their credits and eligibility if they choose to compete at another university.
"This is one of the hardest things I have had to do as an athletic administrator, as it impacts the lives of our student-athletes as well as members of our staff. However, this was an action that needed to be taken for the betterment of Temple Athletics. We all felt this decision needed to become public now, so that our student-athletes can complete the fall semester, go home and discuss their future with their families over the winter break," Clark said.
"Our first concern, now and in the future, is the academic and athletic experience of our student-athletes," Clark said. "We will work with those affected by this decision to ensure their success either here at Temple or at other universities."
Temple remains committed to the success of all student-athletes in these sports, and the university will honor its agreement with those student-athletes who have athletic scholarships, he said.
The recommendation was made by the Vice President and Director of Athletics and approved by President Neil D. Theobald and the Board of Trustees. Theobald said the decision was not an easy one.
"Temple's student-athletes are extraordinary ambassadors for the university," Theobald said. "This is an extremely difficult decision, but it is being done in the best long-term interests of our student-athletes."
The president noted that tightening budgets have resulted in unpopular decisions across the university, with cuts of more than $113 million in operations support in recent years.
In total, there are approximately 150 student-athletes in the seven sports directly impacted by the decision. Nine full-time coaching positions are also affected.