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Sport Five Months After Elimination Plans, Clemson Men's Track and Cross Country Program Will Continue

01:10  23 april  2021
01:10  23 april  2021 Source:   si.com

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CLEMSON , S.C. - Clemson Athletics will discontinue its men ’ s track and field and cross country program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 athletic season, Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich announced today. “This difficult decision is a result of an exhaustive examination of our athletics department over the past several months ,” said Radakovich. “ After careful analysis, we concluded that discontinuing our men ’ s track and field program is in the best long-term interest of Clemson Athletics.

Amid Athletic Department Shortfalls, Men ’ s College Running Programs Get the Axe. Across college sports, athletes and observers worry that cuts will continue to hit track and cross country . Unlike Minnesota, however, Clemson is getting rid of the entire program : men ’ s cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field. No other sports were affected by the cuts. The school’s athletic director, Dan Radakovich, said in a letter the decision was the result of numerous factors, but he acknowledged the department faced difficulties because of the coronavirus pandemic, including a projected million

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Clemson University has walked back its plans to cut the university's men's track and field and cross country programs.

Clemson's men's track and field and cross country programs will continue after this academic year, the university announced. The university will also add one or more women's varsity sports in the near future.

Clemson met with attorneys to conduct a gender equity review of its athletic teams to implement a new Gender Equity Plan. It will be completed no later than July 1, 2022 to ensure Title IX compliance across all programs.

“I am appreciative of the support of the University and our collaboration that will allow us to not only maintain our current sports portfolio but add to it in the very near future,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement on Thursday. “As we communicated previously, the original decision was difficult, and we did what was necessary at the time to maintain compliance with gender equity while addressing our financial situation. I am excited about the future of Clemson Athletics and for our student-athletes.”

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Dear Clemson Track and Field and Cross Country Supporters and Clemson Family, After consultation and communication with President Clements and the Board of Trustees, I have made the difficult decision to discontinue sponsorship of the men ’ s track and field program effective June 2021. In addition to maintaining scholarships, the impacted student-athletes will continue to have access to sports medicine, academic support, career development, mental health services and access to strength and conditioning facilities while enrolled at Clemson . We will also assist any

An activist attempting to reinstate Clemson 's men ' s track and cross country programs filed a complaint with the Department of Education, claiming that eliminating the teams is an act of illegal racial discrimination. The complaint asks the department's Office for Civil Rights to investigate whether Clemson 's decision to end its men ' s track and cross country programs violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which states that no institution that receives federal funds can discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.

The university decided to cut the programs in November 2020, with the final season scheduled for the 2021 outdoor campaign. Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said the decision came after reviewing the athletic department's financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cutting men's track and field and cross country would save about $2 million, making a dent in a projected $25 million resource shortfall for this fiscal year.

"In our long-term planning, we looked at the changing demographics of the Clemson campus," Radakovich wrote in an open letter in November. "Of Clemson's men's sports, only men's track and field and cross country could provide the Department with both substantial cost savings as well as the ability for long-term Title IX compliance."

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Men ’ s track and field has been sponsored at Clemson since 1953, claiming 23 combined ACC Team Championships, 16 individual NCAA champions, 22 Olympians and four Olympic Gold Medalists. Clemson ’s varsity sport offerings will continue to include women’ s track and field and cross country . The program includes indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country . First and foremost, we understand the disappointment and heartbreak of our student-athletes that comes with this difficult news. Many of our student-athletes and coaches have worked their entire lives to compete

Eliminating its men ' s track & field and cross country program will save it million annually. AP / Mo Khursheed. For reference, football coach Swinney was due to make more than .2 million this season. Diving deeper into the numbers, the Clemson men ’ s track & field and cross - country program had operating expenses of .3 million in 2019, according to Sportico’s database. The program offers 12 scholarships that are distributed across 26 athletes, plus an additional 25 walk-ons, meaning that the tuition paid by runners in the program dramatically outweighs the cost of the

The release on Thursday noted that revised financial projections by the university showed that the impacts of COVID-19 "while significant, did not harm the University in as drastic a way as anticipated."

Shortly after the university's announcement, a #SaveClemsonXCTF group with alumni, students, family members and supporters was formed on Instagram and Twitter. A Change.org petition to spare the teams has been signed by more than 32,000 people.

"This decision protects one of the most diverse and decorated programs at Clemson University, with a majority-black student-athlete demographic," the group said in a statement following the university's decision. "For the first time in its fifty-year history, Title IX has been successfully applied toward the reinstatement of a men's program, made possible through the bravery of our women's program in its supporting counter-suit."

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Eliminating the men ' s track team, it says, would leave the school with 318 female athletes and only 229 male athletes. "[U]nless Clemson agrees to preserve the men ' s track and field and cross country teams or has some plans for compliance with Title IX we do not yet know, we will seek a preliminary injunction preserving and continuing these teams," Bryant wrote in the letter. Bryant's letter is the latest step in an ongoing effort to reinstate the track team, which has been spearheaded by a group of athletes, parents, alumni and advocates who organized in an effort to save the program .

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In January, a complaint was filed with the Department of Education that alleged the program cuts were an act of illegal racial discrimination. Russell Dinkins, a former Princeton middle distance runner, has been working with track and cross country programs facing elimination. He helped Brown, Minnesota and William &Mary restore their men's track and field or cross country programs.

Dinkins filed the complaint that stated Clemson was violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits recipients of federal funding from being discriminated against on the basis of race, color or national origin. A parent noted that Clemson may have a Title IX issue by cutting the men’s track program before Dinkins contacted lawyer Arthur Bryan of Bailey & Glasser about pursuing a potential case against Clemson.

Clemson was one of many athletic programs cutting teams and citing financial effects from the coronavirus pandemic. Facing budget shortfalls, non-revenue generating sports like swimming, diving, tennis, cross country and track have found themselves in the crosshairs of the cost-saving measures. A group working to save four men's varsity teams at William & Mary was successful after a two-month campaign that included members of the women's track and field program. Members of the women's track and field team issued a letter to the university president, stating they would not compete until the men's team was reinstated.

#SaveClemsonTrack released a video in December in its fight to preserve the program. The video noted that eliminating men's track and field and cross country at Clemson would eliminate 67% of its Black athletes in non-revenue generating sports (soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, cross country and track and field).

Men's track and field has been part of the Clemson athletic department since 1953.

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