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Brad Schlossman: UND's pointless charade is demeaning

It was Tom Wynne's turn to beg UND President Mark Kennedy and the 18-member Intercollegiate Athletics Committee to save his team. He walked in the hot, crowded room wearing a suit. He stood behind the podium as the judges sat in a circle and wait...

Brad Schlossman
Brad Schlossman

It was Tom Wynne's turn to beg UND President Mark Kennedy and the 18-member Intercollegiate Athletics Committee to save his team.

He walked in the hot, crowded room wearing a suit. He stood behind the podium as the judges sat in a circle and waited for him to begin.

"This isn't really my thing," the North Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame inductee said. "I hope my oration skills aren't the barometer of our tennis team."

And with that, the men's and women's tennis coach delivered the most appropriate line of the day.

What was the point of this charade?

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What was the point of having five head coaches and six students beg for the continued existence of their sports program?

Is the committee really going to make decisions on which sports stay and which go based on which head coach, at this fixed point in time, is the best presenter and public speaker?
If the past is any indication, nearly all of them are going to be gone in five years anyway. Decisions should be made on the financial numbers and merits of the program.

These are all decisions that could have been made between the president and athletic department officials, who are being paid six figures to be experts in their realm. These are all decisions that could have been made without demeaning the coaches and, even worse, students.

Did the committee really need to see softball coach Jordan Stevens tear up when talking about his program? Did they need to see the handful of his players crying in the back?

Did they need to see soccer coach Matt Kellogg have to stop in the middle of his presentation, stare down at the podium, put his hand over his mouth, and try to collect himself before continuing?

Did they need to see the student-athlete who couldn't complete her speech without tearing up?
How could anybody be comfortable with any of this?

The UND students who were asked to speak did so with incredible poise. There were no outbursts, no slandering of the committee, no rage about a process that will end with many of their lives being altered.

They showed only respect.

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Too bad they didn't receive the same in return.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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