WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — The interim William & Mary athletic director spoke to the university community virtually on Thursday night.
As we’ve reported, seven sports were cut from the college’s budget. The athletic director, Samantha Huge, left amid controversy over the decision. Alumni have been pushing back, trying to get the university to reconsider.
Interim Athletic Director Jeremy Martin says it’s his mission to reunite the college community. In a virtual address Thursday night, he said he understands the pain people feel regarding the college’s decision to cut seven sports, but they are facing challenges that must be solved.
Martin says the school’s athletic department has been facing budget issues for the last 45 years. They’ve made tough choices before, and 2020 is no different.
“The challenges we face are real,” said Martin. “Difficult decisions are required at this time.”
Martin says the college projects a $30 to $100 million shortfall for the year — and the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t help.
“COVID-19 is not the cause of the structural budget deficit, which had been with us for years, but it is an accelerant which has exacerbated the situation,” Martin said.
He also said discontinuing seven sports was a comprehensive solution to their budget issues, while keeping with the athletic department’s core values.
“It would facilitate Title IX compliance, it would provide ongoing budget stability, and it would align with a Division I identity,” said Martin.
He acknowledged the pain and frustration many athletes and alumni feel over the college’s decision.
“Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, friends and fans are incredible,” said Martin. “And in recent weeks, however, we have not been at our best in how we’ve interacted with each other.”
Martin says he is open to hearing other ideas, as he works to bring the community together.
“To those who are ready to bring substantive solutions in a way we may not have thought about, in a way that’s respectful of the challenges we have to solve, we are very open to that — we’re eager for that,” Martin said.
Martin says he plans to continue to speak with students and coaches and will hold more public forums in the future.
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