WSU softball | Photo by Guardian photography team | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State University has decided to cut the softball, men’s tennis and women’s tennis teams effective immediately due to restructuring the budget.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for all areas of the university to reduce expenditures,” according to a university press release.
The move affects 39 student-athletes and six coaches. WSU now only has 11 sports, which is under the required 14 to be a Division 1 program.
The university is in the process of pursuing a waiver to remain in compliance as a division 1 program.
“This is extremely difficult because of our strong belief that athletics is an integral part of the educational work we do at Wright State — the education of the whole person,” said Wright State Director of Athletics Bob Grant in the press release. “This affects the lives of students who make up a group of some of the highest achievers on this campus. Our main focus now is supporting the students and coaches impacted by this decision.”
Tennis teams were shocked
The WSU men’s and women’s tennis teams had their season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA decided to give seniors another year of eligibility because of this.
“I was all set and committed to come back and play for another year at Wright State,” said Param Pun, who was a senior on the men’s tennis team that was excited to get another year of eligibility.
The decision to cut the program entirely came as a surprise to everyone on the men’s tennis team.
“It was totally unexpected for the whole team. We had an idea that our budget for the team moving forward would be reduced for the coming year, but no one expected the program to be cut. It was really sad to hear about it,” said Pun.
The women’s tennis team was also in disbelief, and didn’t even know this decision was a possibility.
“Shocked. I didn’t think they were even in talks of being cut. It’s hard to even grasp at first and it hasn’t even really hit me yet,” said Jillian Milano, who was a junior on the women’s tennis team.
A devastated Softball team
The WSU softball team already had their season cancelled, along with facilities being closed.
“These players are losing their family that they have made here. Everyone is devastated and now searching for new homes,” said WSU Softball Coach Laura Matthews.
The WSU softball team was like a big family, and everyone was in disbelief. They couldn’t comprehend that this is how it would all end.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure they continue to grow as women. We are all here for each other no matter what…it’s a grieving process,” said Matthews.
All 39 students-athletes had their dreams cut short, and were already enduring struggle because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The next chapter
“The university will honor all scholarships of affected student-athletes who want to continue studying at Wright State. Under NCAA transfer rules, students are immediately eligible for competition when the students’ original institution discontinues the sport in which the students practiced or competed,” according to the press release.
All of the student-athletes are granted eligibility to enter the transfer portal and continue their college careers somewhere else.
“Almost all of them, if not all of them have already entered the transfer portal. I have been on the phone for 24 hours to help this transition,” said Matthews.
Even though Matthews doesn’t agree with the decision, and understands that the issue is money, she will do everything in her power to make sure her assistant coaches and players are taken care of.
Matthews hasn’t had much time to consider what is next for her, she has been extremely busy helping her players try to continue their dream at another school.
“I haven’t had time to digest what I am going to do moving forward, my primary focus is on taking care of these players. I’ll take it day by day,” said Matthews.