William & Mary athletic director Samantha Huge stepping down after uproar over cuts to 7 sports

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — William & Mary Athletic Director Samantha Huge is stepping down after pushback over her decision to eliminate seven sports for financial reasons.

William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe praised Huge’s work in a statement Tuesday, saying the decision to “part ways” was mutual.

“Athletics Director Samantha Huge was asked to lead difficult change at William & Mary – change required to address long-standing imbalances and put the Athletics Department on sound financial and operational footing for years to come. She took on that challenge recognizing that it was in the best interest of the university and she continues to make decisions using that standard as her guide.”

Women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball are scheduled to be discontinued at the end of the academic year, affecting 118 student-athletes and 13 coaches. William & Mary currently sponsors 23 varsity sports, the most of any full-time Colonial Athletic Association member.

Huge and other William & Mary officials said during their announcement in early September that the cuts were made for financial reasons, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The cost to sustain those seven sports at a competitive level nationally would be $5.84 million annually. An endowment to fund those programs would be about $150 million.

“The pandemic has made these budget constraints acute and has brought us to a point of reckoning,” the letter reads. William & Mary expects to save $3.66 million each year once it honors student scholarships and coaching contracts for those seven sports.

There was outcry after the announcement, with athletes and alumni forming “Save the Tribe 7” in an effort to save the programs. The university has since hosted events to hear concerns, but so far the sports are still on the chopping block.

Rowe says her chief of staff, Jeremy Martin, will take over as interim athletic director in the meantime. She says Martin will continue to meet with constituents “as transparently as possible.”

“Moving the W&M Athletics community forward to a shared path of sustainability and excellence is my top priority during this interim period, said Martin in a statement Tuesday. “At the top of that list will be working with the people, our dedicated student-athletes, coaches and staff, who make this such a special department. I look forward to meeting with each of you personally in the coming days.

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