Wright State trustees meet to discuss the future of college athletics

Credit: Eileen McClory

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Credit: Eileen McClory

Wright State University’s Special Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics wants to better understand how the institution works with its athletics department and how athletes contribute to the school, the group said during its first meeting Monday.

The board will ultimately create a report on athletics at Wright State within a year to bring to the greater Board of Trustees.

Doug Fecher, a trustee on the committee, said they should look at both the Division I sports as well as club sports and intermural, which he said also add to the college experience.

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He noted there are several different ways students could be affected by athletics, and the committee should seek out students to hear from them.

“I think it’s going to be important for us to understand as best we can, kind of, how is the world of intercollegiate athletics going forward?” Fecher said.

Andrew Platt, another trustee on the committee, said he thought it would also be important to connect athletics to recruitment and retention. Platt noted he is a graduate of the Wright State athletics program. According to the trustee’s website, he played golf for the university and was team captain for his final two years of college.

The committee decided Monday they should eventually speak with stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, members of the community and alumni.

“You know, our student athletes are our students too, and they have a perspective on their experience here,” said Brittney Whiteside, another trustee who sits on the committee.

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Whiteside also suggested eventually pulling information to compare Wright State to other institutions.

The committee adjoined with plans to speak with the athletics department and meet again in two weeks. They eventually plan to meet monthly. Marty Grunder is chairman of the committee.

Wright State has 11 athletics programs with 194 student athletes, according to the university. Last year, WSU cut three sports: men’s and women’s tennis and softball.

The elimination of the programs was part of a larger Wright State budget plan designed to stabilize operations as enrollment has declined, the school said. The COVID-19 pandemic “has accelerated the need for all areas of the university to reduce expenditures,” according to the university.

Wright State spent about $12 million on athletics in 2019, according to USA Today data. A little more than $10 million of that spending was appropriated from the university.

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