Nutter Center | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian
On Jan. 22, Wright State University’s (WSU) Board of Trustees Chair Tom Gunlock announced the establishment of a new intercollegiate athletics committee. Marty Grunder will chair this committee, aimed at exploring the current and future states of intercollegiate athletics at WSU.
Goals and purpose
“The current pandemic has significantly disrupted collegiate sports at all levels…the NCAA may well be forced to make significant changes to their operational parameters which could impact all participating universities,” Gunlock said in a public statement regarding the new committee. “It is my belief that we are best served to be proactive in our review of this area and understand how it may affect us here at WSU.”
This proactive review specifically involves analysis of four major areas: the current role of athletics for WSU and its students, the scope of the financial and participatory impacts of coronavirus on intercollegiate athletics, potential regulation changes from the NCAA and the best position for athletics at WSU going forward.
Trustees joining Grunder in the newly formed committee are Andrew Platt, Brittney Whiteside and former Chair Doug Fecher. Grunder is a University of Dayton alumnus and the President and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. He joined WSU’s Board of Trustees in 2019.
“Anything I can do to help WSU, I want to do,” Grunder said on accepting this position. “COVID-19 is a tremendous disrupter, but in every challenge, there are opportunities…we need to make sure that we’re looking at this disruption for what it is and to see if there’s not a better way to set us up going forward.”
The pandemic’s impact
WSU has been forced to make significant changes to athletics operations since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. On top of adopting new safety regulations aligning with CDC and Ohio Department of Health guidelines, WSU cut the softball and men’s and women’s tennis programs due to Covid-related budget reductions.
Reducing the number of athletic programs temporarily placed WSU at risk of losing its Division 1 status in the NCAA. WSU has since received a waiver from the NCAA, however, allowing the university to operate below the minimum program requirement for two seasons.
The intercollegiate athletics committee will be analyzing these and other operational changes, as well as what changes might occur in the future.
Lainey Stephenson is a member of WSU’s volleyball team and the Vice President of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. She feels grateful knowing measures are being taken to provide a sense of certainty to student athletes at WSU.
“It’s a sense of reassurance that someone’s looking out for us, caring for us and putting our thoughts first to make sure we’re successful,” Stephenson said. “It’s a relief to know that someone other than our coaches and athletic directors are caring about us and our futures at Wright State.”