It looks like the duct tape will no longer be needed.
After a meeting between Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley and Towson University President Maravene Loeschke last week, the University announced Monday that the baseball team will survive two more years with the help of funding from the Governor.
As a part of the state’s FY14 Supplemental Budget, Towson will receive $300,000 per year in funding from the state, forcing the University to only increase student fees by 1% (all students currently pay a $399 athletic fee each semester) and seek $100,000 in other donations in order to maintain the team. The Governor’s funding comes with hope that the University is able to sustain the team on its own after two seasons.
The funding does not extend to save the men’s soccer team.
Governor O’Malley became involved with Towson’s decision to discontinue both the men’s baseball and soccer teams in the middle of March as the State Comptroller, Peter Franchot, expressed his skepticism of the reasons given by President Loeschke for the terminations as well as the disgust of how she reportedly informed the students.
"I don't think any sensible person truly believes there is a fiscal justification for the elimination of these storied, successful athletic programs," Franchot said, adding that he was particularly troubled by reports of how Loeschke chose to inform the students and staff.
Members of the teams were given "less than an hour notice" and were told in a meeting that "lasted only a few minutes and no questions were taken," Franchot said.
"The coaches themselves were being pink-slipped in another room and not allowed to be in the room with their players to be a source of comfort, guidance and perspective," Franchot said.
"In what might be the most insulting gesture of disrespect that I've seen in my 27 years of public life, the president of the university arrived at the meeting in the company of uniformed police officers," Franchot said. "Presumably as protection from acts of violent retaliation by these aggrieved team members as if they were a band of violent thugs and not dedicated, disciplined men and women representing their school proudly in NCAA competition."
Following the comments from Franchot, O’Malley delayed a decision on a contract for the University’s planned construction of an academic building on the campus of Harford Community College, asking for President Loeschke to open the books for the Governor.
While the Governor’s bold checkmate move led to opponents claiming education was being “held hostage,” as a result of the delayed contract, the maneuver also led to a solution to a problem that was puzzling the state and unfairly afflicting the futures of a group of students.
When The Hall last reported on Towson’s decision to decline a donation that reportedly would have saved the team, we spoke to Garrett Walther, a freshman pitcher who was unsure of his future but open to the prospect of transferring to any university that wanted him. As President Loeschke made her announcement on the fate of the team last month, his only wish was that the Towson community would make the final home game in the team’s final season memorable. The thought of playing baseball again for Towson beyond this season was extinguished from his mind.
In reply to being asked his reaction to the news of the team’s newfound hope tonight, Walther only had one, short comment, but a comment that exemplifies the reason for the state’s fight to save the team.
“My life is made.”