June 16, 2019

UMaine dropping tennis for season> Athletic Advisory Board votes to re-evaluate future of women’s program

Tennis, anyone?…

Not at the University of Maine, where the varsity women’s tennis program has been suspended for one season.

Maine athletic director Suzanne Tyler said lack of interest among student-athletes, coaching instability, and an inadequate schedule are among the factors that led to imposing the hiatus.

At Tyler’s request, the university’s Athletic Advisory Board voted recently to suspend women’s tennis for one year so the future of the program can be evaluated.

“We had five coaches in five years,” Tyler said. “Scheduling was a nightmare, and keeping people on the team was tough. They had a great deal of trouble winning points, much less matches.”

Tyler said the move doesn’t mean women’s tennis will be permanently dropped.

“We need to evaluate [the program] and see if it’s the right thing,” Tyler said.

The move comes as the tennis program is poised to receive increased financial support. The team’s total budget for 1995-96 was $12,000, plus $1,000 for scholarships. Tyler said that money will be utilized elsewhere within the athletic department.

Under the 1995 “Realizing the Dream” gender equity plan, tennis was slated for a $3,000 budget increase and $2,050 boost in scholarships during 1996-97. The plan also calls for tennis to receive an additional $2,000 for 1997-98, taking its working budget to $17,000.

In 1997-98, scholarship money for tennis is scheduled to be increased by $10,153, which would push its available financial aid to $13,203.

Despite the team’s varsity status, its schedule has not met NCAA Division I requirements.

“We really didn’t have a Division I schedule,” Tyler said. “We were not a counting sport, by NCAA standards, for a least three years.”

Last year, 15 women were on the Black Bears roster at one time or another. UMaine assistant AD Jim Dyer said a handful of tennis players were interviewed last spring.

The instability of the coaching situation and its negative effect on recruiting and the talent pool were the athletes’ main concerns.

“Basically, it was start all over again every year for the last four years,” Dyer said. “With incoming players being recruited and prior organization of the team, it made it difficult for the team to be as competitive as it might have been.”

Tyler and the Athletic Advisory Board will decide the fate of the tennis team later in 1996-97.

Tennis could be replaced by another women’s sport, Tyler said. There already are club teams in women’s ice hockey, lacrosse, and volleyball at UMaine, while skiing, sailing and water polo are other possibilities to consider.

Tyler said any change in what sports are offered at the university must be approved by the University of Maine System trustees.

The University of Maine on Thursday released the details of its formal appeal to the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee in regard to two penalties imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

In the 38-page document, UMaine appeals the committee’s ban on postseason competition in men’s ice hockey for 1996-97, and the reduction of 13 financial aid awards in football for 1997.

UMaine argued that the penalties imposed are similar to those handed out in cases involving Alabama State, Alcorn State, and Auburn. In those cases, the institutions were found guilty of “flagrant” and “blatant” violations.

The Committee on Infractions did not make such determinations in the UMaine case.

The university based its appeals on seven criteria used by the Infractions Appeals Committee in considering appeals.

Those criteria include: 1. The nature, number and seriousness of the violations; 2. the conduct and motives of the individuals involved in the violations; 3. what the institution did to correct the problem; and 4. the analysis of the penalties imposed when compared with penalties imposed in other cases with similar characteristics.

Also: 5. institutional cooperation in the investigation; 6. the impact of the penalties on innocent student-athletes and coaches; and 7. NCAA policies regarding fairness in the equitable resolution of infractions cases.

The Committee on Infractions has 30 days to respond to UMaine’s appeal and defend its actions. The university will then have 14 days to offer additional arguments. The Infractions Appeals Committee will consider all information and reach its conclusion.

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