Boos and jeers rang out as the Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal by the Athletic Department to eliminate four sports from the University of New Mexico. The sports included Men's Soccer, Women's Beach Volleyball, the diving portion of Women's Swimming & Diving, and both Men and Women's Skiing. Track and Field is also receiving a sizable reduction in athletes, but will remain a sport at the University.
The decision affects a total of 63 athletes and was made, in part, due to struggles the Athletic Department has had with finances and Title IX compliance.
In a press conference following the vote, Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said that he came to the decision to cut the four sports yesterday when he submitted his recommendation to UNM President Garnett Stokes. Athletes affected by the decision were informed later that afternoon.
The vote was preceded by nearly three and a half hours of public comment. Those who commented included athletes, alumni and other members of the community. Each gave heartfelt testimony, pleading with the regents to reject the recommendation presented by the Athletic Department.
Jeff Nelson, head coach of the Beach Volleyball, team said to the regents that he was there to fight for his players.
"If I don't fight for my (student-athletes), I lose them," he said.
Following public comment, Nuñez presented his proposal before the board. He guaranteed that all student-athletes in eliminated sports would keep their scholarship until graduation, no matter what year they are.
Many of the regents spoke at today's proceedings, a couple doing so from previously written statements. After they were done speaking, a relatively brief vote commenced in which each regent approved the University's recommendations.
The response of the audience consisted of a mixture of stunned silence and vocal displeasure. During public comments, many speakers indicated that the University could be faced with Title IX litigation, due to the fact that women's sports were eliminated in order to meet compliance.
Each sport will play one more season, and will be officially eliminated in July 2019.
This is a developing story.
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