It’s common sense for those who lack the knowledge for properly repairing an item that duct tape fixes everything. Shattered dreams, the feelings of abandonment, neglect and disrespect; a university’s claimed financial instability and a cancelled baseball season are all, however, beyond duct tape’s repair.
But sometimes, a little duct tape can help.
Before taking the field against the University of Delaware Blue Hens last week, Towson University’s baseball team covered a broken name on the front of their jerseys with duct tape. Even though the tape made the front of the Tigers’ jersey blank, the message was clear.
“I wouldn’t even call it a university anymore,” said first-year pitcher Garrett Walther in a text message.
Friday, Towson University President Maravene Loeschke held a rushed press conference to officially announce the termination of the University’s men’s soccer team effective immediately as well as the men’s baseball team, effective at the conclusion of the season.
“The people in the community, students, and the people around the state and country need to understand how messed up this whole [thing] is,” added Walther.
The team’s bold move to remove themselves from an establishment that has tried for months to sever ties themselves effectively brought awareness to the struggles of the University’s abandoned team as national outlets, including Yahoo, covered the story.
Duct tape has been an effective tool for the baseball team dating back to the fall. Using the same tactic to promote solidarity with their soccer counterparts who were trying to fight-off the same junk pitches being thrown by the University, the baseball players attended a match with “family” written on the tape covering the University’s name. The precedent set during soccer season made the decision easier for the first game following the official announcement. With the approval of head coach Mike Gottlieb, the team did it again, this time keeping “family” off the tape.
“We don’t want to represent this place,” said Walther.
The seething words from Walther and many of his teammates show the result of actions from the University burn more than any words could.
The press conference held by President Loeschke showed a clear disregard for the players, coaches and families involved with the baseball program and the effort to save it. Players had little prior warning to the conference, many of whom were in class, and were unable to attend. Walther heard his team was officially cut through Twitter.
As if the program needed another fastball to the ribcage, President Loeschke was escorted by police to and from the press conference for fear of her own personal safety, a move that was even noticed by Deadspin.
“Every email she sent to the students about updates on the situation praised how amazing and respectful we are holding ourselves,” says Walther. “We acted so well during the process and to reward that she brings cops? Doesn’t make sense.”
While the baseball and soccer teams are being disrespected by the University, the football and basketball teams continue to flourish. In the spring of 2011, Towson broke ground on a new basketball arena that held a $73 million price tag. The arena is expected to turn a profit for the University as the naming rights are expected to catch the eyes of many potential suitors. Despite having Team Services, LLC, who found sponsors for M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens and the Comcast Center for the University of Maryland, to lead the charge, the naming rights for the arena remain available. As for the football team, in May, their field was redone with Fieldturf Revolution, a high scale athletic turf.
Those expensive renovations make it hard to believe the same university cited financial instability as a reason for cuts.
Initially, Towson referred to Title IX as the main reason for cutting the baseball and soccer teams. In short, Title IX presents equal opportunities for female students in university activities. A university, based upon their gender demographics, must have enough opportunities for both sexes to participate in athletics and take part in other activities. Currently, 62.3% of students at Towson are female.
To many, the alleged Title IX compliance and financial woes are mere excuses rather than legitimate reasons for cutting two popular sports teams.
“No doubt in my mind [the cuts were implemented] to expand football and basketball,” said Walther.
According to Walther, parents of the players and other people “behind the scenes” proposed a revised budget to Athletic Director Mike Waddell and President Loeschke that would cut the cost of the baseball program down to $18,000. Beyond that, Walther says the University refused to accept a donation of $18,000 that would have saved the team.
“We found a way to save us," Walther added, "and I guess [President Loeschke] and [Waddell] didn’t want to.”
Despite financial issues, the University plans to host rapper Wiz Khalifa for their annual Tiger Fest this year. According to Main Stage Production, a site that “makes it easy for program councils and student activities to book a national touring act,” Wiz Khalifa’s asking price is $100,000 for the spring.
As for Walther, he says he is open to any college willing to contact him but is still unsure of what to do since the length of the process kept many students from looking at other schools. Walther says the team does not have any plans for the last game of the season (as of now), but he does hope one thing happens.
“I hope the whole Towson community comes together and makes the last home game special,” he concluded.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Anderson is a student at Towson University and a mainstay at Camden Yards. He has contributed to The Hall of Very Good in the past and soon, will be a featured contributor over at Eutaw Street Report.