JERSEY CITY, NJ – Saint Peter's University has announced the discontinuation of three of its Division I programs. The women's bowling team and both men's and women's tennis programs will be eliminated, effective July 1, 2018.
"This was an extremely tough decision," said Director of Athletics Bryan Felt. "These are all tremendous young men and women and I know how difficult this is for our impacted student-athletes. We are in the midst of strategically restructuring our athletic department in an effort to ensure athletic competitiveness for Saint Peter's in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference as well as maximize our limited financial resources. The reality is that our current path was simply not sustainable to continue to support the current number of sports."
"A great deal of consideration went into this decision and while it was not an easy choice to make it was the necessary course of action for the overall benefit of our athletic program and the University as a whole," said Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter's University. "We realize the impact of this decision on our student-athletes and coaches and we will provide as much support as possible with their next steps. We are confident that this decision will ultimately enable the University to better serve our student-athletes and coaches in the future."
The move comes as Saint Peter's has announced a strategic restructuring of the intercollegiate sports programs. In an effort to ensure sustained athletic competitiveness for athletics in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and maximize the limited financial resources, the department must bring the athletic and University budgets in line with current and future fiscal realities.
Facility availability and program budgets were large factors in eliminating women's bowling and men's and women's tennis. Women's bowling status as an independent sport with no conference affiliation as well as expenses for lane rentals and travel proved to be costly. Tennis was ultimately affected this spring with the RLC tennis courts not available, resulting in the program's accruing more expenses to its operating budget. In addition, with the overall facility plan to eliminate the tennis courts in the RLC Bubble, tennis operating costs will increase.
Saint Peter's University and the athletic department will honor the scholarship commitments to the 16 current student-athletes from the trio of programs. If any decide to transfer to another university, the department will allow them an immediate release, according to National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. Saint Peter's will also honor all National Letters of Intent and fulfill the terms of the current coaching staffs' agreements.
With the discontinuation of the three programs, the athletic department will now sponsor 16 varsity sports; eight women's teams and eight men's teams which all compete in the MAAC, a NCAA Division I conference. Saint Peter's University sponsors baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's track & field, and women's volleyball. The elimination of the programs will not affect Saint Peter's compliance status within the NCAA or MAAC as the athletic department still meets the NCAA minimum of 14 sports and MAAC minimum of six core sports.