Tech Athletics restructures sports programs

Tennessee Tech University announced on Thursday a strategic restructuring of its intercollegiate sports programs. The move is an effort to maximize its financial resources and ensure sustained athletics competitiveness in the Ohio Valley Conference. Two athletic teams – rifle and women’s tennis – will be suspended effective July 1. In keeping with NCAA and Title IX requirements, the university will continue to field 14 sports teams, and the student-athlete gender participation rate will continue to be proportionate to the university’s undergraduate student population. Scholarships will also remain budgeted according to Title IX standards.

“This was a difficult choice to make, given the history of our rifle and women’s tennis programs, but it was a necessary one made in the best interests of Tennessee Tech Athletics as a whole,” said Mark Wilson, director of Athletics. “It is not financially viable for us to continue to support the number of sports we do at the current level. With this decision we are confident that we will strengthen our remaining sports programs.”

The decision was based on a comprehensive assessment of the athletic programs the university offers, the costs required by each, and the strategic direction of the Department of Athletics, Wilson said.

Fourteen student-athletes and one part-time coach will be affected. Tennessee Tech will honor scholarship commitments made to current student-athletes for the 2010-11 academic year and will assist any student-athletes who decide to transfer to another university.

“Like many universities, Tennessee Tech has been hit hard by the economic crisis,” said President Bob Bell. “As a university, we have been forced to make difficult decisions in response to greatly reduced budgets. While I hate to see these sports suspended, I recognize the need to make drastic cuts in some areas to keep other programs strong.”

The restructuring is part of the university’s short-term and long-term steps to address budget reductions and increased costs. Tennessee Tech Athletics faces an estimated reduction in university general fund support up to $365,000, along with increased inflationary costs of scholarships and operating, which could exceed $400,000.

TTU Athletics, an NCAA Division I member, will continue to compete in the OVC and support six men’s teams: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf and tennis; as well as eight women’s teams: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track (indoor), track (outdoor), and volleyball.

“With this strategic restructuring and our continued emphasis on identifying additional revenue, we believe we can position our resources to allow our teams to achieve great success in the OVC, regionally and nationally,” said Wilson.