Skidmore has decided to eliminate men’s ice hockey following this season after a two-year, comprehensive study of its offerings in sports and recreation. It is the fourth school in six months to announce the dropping of men’s hockey.
“Athletics in the broadest sense is a core aspect of a liberal arts education,” said Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach. “Our intention is to structure a program that will serve all of our students in the best possible way. We have taken a close look at Skidmore athletics, and we are making decisions on how to direct our limited resources to maintain excellence and serve a wide array of student interests.”
Skidmore will eliminate its intercollegiate men’s ice hockey program, beginning with the winter season of 2004-05. At the same time, it will direct additional resources to women’s soccer, tennis, volleyball, softball, and lacrosse, in some cases upgrading part-time coaching positions to full-time. The College will also expand opportunities and instruction in recreation and fitness, in such areas as aerobics, yoga, and weight-training.
“Eliminating the intercollegiate ice hockey program was a difficult decision. In particular, I recognize the deep disappointment felt by the student-athletes who have committed themselves to this program. But I believe this step is in the best interest of Skidmore athletics,” said President Glotzbach. “Shifting these resources to our remaining programs will enable us both to strike a better balance in our support for male and female athletes and to increase opportunities for the entire campus community to pursue a broader range of fitness activities.”
The decision follows an in-depth review of Skidmore athletics by the college’s Athletic Review Committee, which comprised faculty, coaches, administrators, and students. The committee, which issued its final report in May 2002, reviewed the intercollegiate program, intramural and club sports, the physical activity program, and general recreational opportunities. The report called for a renewed commitment to athletics but noted that financial realities could well force the college to trim back in some areas in order to strengthen others.
“Whatever we do, we should do properly,” stated the report. “Quality is more important than quantity, and if that means we field fewer intercollegiate teams for the foreseeable future, so be it.”
“The study reaffirmed the importance of athletics to the educational mission of the college, but it also revealed that our current staffing, facilities, and financial support cannot sustain all that we are doing at the level of excellence we want,” said Athletics Director Jeff Segrave.
He also said that the men’s intercollegiate ice hockey program was a likely candidate for elimination because it is relatively expensive and the facilities are not available on campus or owned by the college. He added that Skidmore has both men’s and women’s ice hockey clubs.
With this decision, the college will field 18 intercollegiate teams. Skidmore last eliminated intercollegiate teams in 1992, when it changed the status of men’s and women’s polo, men’s and women’s skiing, and women’s ice hockey to club sports. At that time the college also cut junior varsity teams in men’s basketball, men’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, and women’s field hockey.
Skidmore’s travel partner in the ECAC East, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, eliminated its hockey program this season. Two Division I schools, Fairfield and Iona, also dropped the sport at the end of 2002-03.