State Delays Towson University Project Because of Athletics Decision
Comptroller Peter Franchot and Gov. Martin O'Malley want President Maravene Loeschke to "come down here" to explain how the men's baseball and soccer teams were eliminated.
The cancellation of two Towson University athletic programs has resulted in the delay of a construction contract related to a university building in Harford County.
The state Board of Public Works Wednesday delayed a decision on the contract until university President Maravene S. Loeschke can explain events surrounding the cancellation earlier this month of the men's baseball and soccer programs.
"I'm pretty disgusted by what Towson [University] has done with recent events concerning their athletic teams," Comptroller Peter Franchot said, referring to what he called the "bizarre decision" to disband the teams.
Loeschke and university Athletic Director Mike Waddell said earlier this month that the decision to end the men's soccer and baseball programs was necessitated by budgetary constraints and a requirement to comply with federal Title IX laws.
Franchot said he didn't believe the rationale provided by Loeschke.
"I don't think any sensible person truly believes there is a fiscal justification for the elimination of these storied, successful athletic programs," Franchot said, adding that he was particularly troubled by reports of how Loeschke chose to inform the students and staff.
Members of the teams were given "less than an hour notice" and were told in a meeting that "lasted only a few minutes and no questions were taken," Franchot said.
"The coaches themselves were being pink-slipped in another room and not allowed to be in the room with their players to be a source of comfort, guidance and perspective," Franchot said.
"In what might be the the most insulting gesture of disrespect that I've seen in my 27 years of public life, the president of the university arrived at the meeting in the company of uniformed police officers," Franchot said. "Presumably as protection from acts of violent retaliation by these aggrieved team members as if they were a band of violent thugs and not dedicated, disciplined men and women representing their school proudly in NCAA competition."
The comptroller called the decision and the way it was handled "a severe black mark on the record of an otherwise exceptional university."
"If all of that went down like that, it's pretty outrageous," O'Malley said, adding that he wanted Loeschke to "come down here and tell us if that's how they really told those kids."