RU President, AD discuss athletics strategic plan with student government
Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle and Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg attended RU's Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Monday evening to update the SGA on a variety of matters, including the recent realignment of sports in the university's athletics program.
Kyle began her remarks by thanking the SGA for inviting her and Lineburg to the SGA meeting. She told the members that she would like to meet with them more often. "I need to hear from you, and you need to hear from me," she said.
RU's Board of Visitors (BOV) approved at its meeting on Feb. 4th the recommendations made by the RU athletics director to add women's lacrosse as a Division I sport and discontinue Division I sponsorship of field hockey, swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field and men's outdoor track and field, effective at the conclusion of these sports' respective 2013-14 seasons.
Before taking questions, Lineburg explained the athletics realignment proposal that the athletics department made to the Board of Visitors. Lineburg said the decision to discontinue the four sports was "painful," and added, "It was a very difficult decision, but one we believe five years from now will prove to be very, very beneficial to the department and to the university."
Lineburg explained that student-athletes from those affected sports would continue to receive their athletic scholarships throughout their remaining years of eligibility and that the affected student-athletes also have the opportunity to transfer to other institutions.
Kyle noted that some of the affected student-athletes may choose to transfer to other Division I schools to continue their collegiate athletic careers. She stated that she believed that the athletic director and his staff are prepared to assist any RU student-athletes who want to take their remaining eligibility to another institution. She added that she knew that Lineburg would help these student-athletes identify transfer opportunities.
The president also informed the members of the SGA that the Board of Visitors wants to avoid large increases to RU's tuition and fees. "And so the Board hopes this action taken by the athletic department will also keep the university from having to approve any large increases in the student fees that are dedicated to athletics," Kyle said. Lineburg stressed that all savings from the realignment will remain in the Athletics Department.
Asked by the SGA why field hockey, swimming and diving, men's indoor track and field and men's outdoor track and field were selected for the cuts, Lineburg stated that one reason was because field hockey and swimming and diving are not Big South Conference sports.
Another question from the SGA addressed the reasons behind adding women's lacrosse, which is played in the Big South. "We believe it's a very appropriate sport to add to our array of sports," Lineburg said. "It's an exploding sport."
Later in the meeting, when talking about recruiting for women's lacrosse, Lineburg added "lacrosse gives you a large demographic of folks from all around the region, even outside of Virginia into New Jersey and into Long Island. Lacrosse is exploding in the Carolinas, in Atlanta and Texas."
Before concluding the more than 30-minute session with the SGA, Kyle was asked about the process for prioritizing the list of campus buildings scheduled for renovations.
She stated that the vice presidents and the deans are consulted about their current and future space needs. The areas with the most critical and pressing needs are the ones that the university tries to address first. She then talked about her recent announcement that the new building to house the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences had been approved by the state. The construction of this new academic building will begin next year.
SGA President Zach McCoy thanked Kyle and Lineburg for meeting with the organization, saying "It's our job as elected officials to pass this on to our fellow students."
Kyle again thanked the SGA for inviting her and Lineburg to the meeting. "Both of us are striving to do what is best for Radford University," she said.