According to the Baltimore Sun, Towson’s new president, Maravene Loeschke, opted for a police escort of nearly two dozen officers when she revealed to the university’s baseball and men’s soccer players that she was cutting their teams.
The decision was a long time coming — Loeschke had received a recommendation from the school’s director of athletics back in October, and had said she’d make a decision on the fate of the teams by November — but it still took players by surprise. Several vented to the Sun and the Towson Towerlight that they felt ambushed. (Players learned of a mandatory meeting with just an hour’s advance notice; several couldn’t attend because they were in class, and learned about the decision via Facebook.)
Although cuts like these are inevitably disappointing for many, Loeschke was in a tough place. The school’s athletic department was struggling financially, and wasn’t Title IX compliant. (Though there are some questions about the reliability of this data, according to the Sun.) Lacrosse is Towson’s big sport, and in order to balance out that program, cuts had to come from somewhere. The resulting ire from alumni (who include Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz) and acts of protest from student athletes are to be expected. University presidents have to make tricky calls, and there’s plenty of evidence that extensively-funded athletic departments can be a drain on a university’s other resources — you know, like the whole “learning and research” part.
But Loeschke could’ve handled a difficult situation with more grace. The delayed decision, the sudden call for a meeting, the lack of transparency, and the police escort all combine to create an oppositional environment. “That was the final insult in what has been one of the most unprofessional, least classy experiences of my life,” Matt Butler, the father of a Towson baseball player, told the Sun.
Several players have opted to transfer to other schools. When the baseball team played on Friday afternoon, they put black tape over their school’s name on their jerseys.