Saturday, June 20, 2020

Division I Winthrop Drops Men's and Women's Tennis; UConn Tennis Alumni Fight to Save Programs; Ram Named Volunteer Assistant at Cal; Other College Coaching Updates

The drip, drip, drip of college tennis program cuts continued Friday afternoon, when Division I Winthrop announced it was discontinuing both its men's and women's teams. The South Carolina school, which now will field 16 varsity teams, two over the NCAA minimum for Division I, obviously did not consider the success of the tennis teams in its calculations of which sports to cut, with the women having won 21 Big South conference titles, including four straight from 2016-2019. Lauren Proctor, who graduated last year, was a four-time Big South Player of the Year and an All-American in doubles in 2017; she has had been playing of the ITF World Tennis Tour full time prior to the pandemic hiatus. The men's team won a regular season conference title in 2010, 2011 and 2018, while winning the tournament title in 2014 and 2015. The school will honor the scholarships of those who wish to continue at the school without competing; the three student-athletes who have signed National Letters of Intent will receive their scholarships for one year.

The University of Connecticut's athletic program has been in financial disarray for some time, and cuts are expected when the board meets Wednesday, June 24.  The track and field and tennis teams are attempting to raise money to keep those programs, with track and field having raised more than $1.5 million, according to this article. As has been the case throughout these cuts, tennis has been less successful in coming up with funds to save programs, but they have $300,000 pledged. There is a change.org petition to sign here, with a GoFundMe donation link included.

The updated list of Covid-related dropped collegiate tennis programs, now 32 in number, is available here.

A couple of weeks ago, Cal announced that longtime men's associate head coach Tyler Browne was leaving for a private sector tennis position. This week Peter Wright announced his replacement, Horacio Matta, and a high profile volunteer assistant, Rajeev Ram. Matta had served as a volunteer assistant at Stanford this past academic year. Ram, the reigning Australian Open men's doubles champion, is currently No. 9 in the ATP doubles rankings.

In other Division I coaching news, Tom Wynne, head coach of both the men's and women's programs at the University of North Dakota, will be retiring after the 2020-21 season, his 30th year at UND. Interesting that both tennis programs were discontinued in 1990 and both were brought back, the women in 1998 and the men in 2012.

Duke has hired Maciek Sykut as the assistant men's coach, replacing longtime associate head coach Jonathan Stokke. Sykut, who played at Florida State, comes to Durham from his position as men's associate head coach at Arizona.

Ian Van Cott, who was an assistant at East Carolina before they cut their program last month, will join the Tennessee men's program as a volunteer assistant. 

And former Baylor star Blair Shankle will join Utah as the women's program's assistant coach. Shankle spent the past two years as a volunteer assistant at Ole Miss.

I'll have more college news, specifically on signings, fifth-year seniors and graduate transfers, in Sunday's post.


Greg Gunderson said...

Not one US player on the entire Winthrop men's roster. If there are not enough decent US guys to at least be 70% of the team at a US college than what is the point of having them? Zero players on the team in a sport that costs the athletic department money? On what planet does that make any sense?

Karen Markowitz said...

It is worse than that Greg. Neither the men's or the women's team had even a single American kid on the team. Not even one. Why would the athletic director, school administrators, student body, or the surrounding community want to have a program in the US where foreign kids come and get a free education to play tennis and the coaches can not find even one American kid to play for the team? What is the purpose of a totally foreign team at a US college? You can not justify having the program.

B said...

I'm having a hard time understanding the constant argument that the issue is not enough US players making up rosters.

Most college coaches will try to field the best possible team that they can create, and unfortunately, a lot of American players who aren't good enough to play at a top D1 program won't even consider playing at a smaller or mid-major D1 program. A lot of foreign players see these schools as good opportunities, which they are.

Most AD's want to see a successful sports program that represents the University well. They're not overly concerned with having to meet a quota of US players.

Greg Gunderson said...

B, you are pretty much making the argument then for canceling the programs. All the arguments for cancelling have said that a college in the United States is supported by tax dollars from the United States taxpayers. Everything from the local police force and military to maintain safety, to the roads the tennis team buses travel on to get to tournaments, is paid for by the United States taxpayers. The academic loans that the other non scholarship students use to pay for college has the interest subsidized by the United States government. College tennis could not exist without the infrastructure supported by the taxpayers.

The tennis programs also use funds from the athletic department, they do not make a profit, they cost money. No United States student or taxpayer benefit from a program that has all non United States kids. So who benefits from these programs? The coaches who get paid and the players from other countries who get a free education which they then take back to their home countries.

Can you tell us a country that will allow a team with all United States kids to come there for free, use that countries infrastructure, then return to the United States after they get all the free services and education? There are non.

You said United States kids were refusing scholarships at these schools? If that is true, which I doubt, then the market has spoken, there are too many college tennis programs. The solution is easy, 5 out of every 8 roster spots must be a United States born player. I bet you every one of those 5 roster spots would be filled. The coaches are not recruiting the United States kids.

Who cares how good the team is as the reason to fill it with non United States kids? How does a good team benefit the United States and the taxpayers and the other students who pay for the tennis programs? We have seen matches from these schools and there are no other students watching as fans. If the team never loses a match but is filled with all non US players, that still does not make it matter to anyone but the coach and foreign players who benefit financially.

SeminoleG said...

Foreign Players have to enter college (Freshman) year before their 20th Birthday. US Players clock starts when they enter 9th grade and most will enter college at 17-18 years old.

The restriction that forces US kids to only delay admission 6 months after their class graduates creates an unfair advantage.

Fix the "GAP" rule and make it a level playing filed. Have every player start before their 20th Birthday.

Then we can see how US Players will do.

I shed no tears for a program filled with foreign players that gets cut. As a BOOSTER we refuse to pay for an ALL foreign roster in any sport we can get US Kids.

Quotes from the Past said...

“Americans aren’t Hungry Enough...” Pat McEnroe