Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

In an effort to “adapt to the quickly changing NCAA landscape,” Loyola Marymount University has announced that it will be eliminating six athletic programs at the end of the 2023-24 season due to new rules regarding name, image and likeness and the transfer portal.

The Los Angeles Jesuit university is dropping three men’s teams (cross-country, rowing and track and field) and three women’s teams (rowing, swimming and track and field). The decision will affect approximately 115 student-athletes as well as five full-time and two part-time coaches, LMU said on its website.

“We informed the coaches and student-athletes associated with the impacted sports earlier this evening,” LMU athletic director Craig Pintens wrote in a letter posted Tuesday on the school’s website. “We continue to hold these student-athletes, coaches, and teams in high esteem, and we honor their lifelong passions, their commitments, and their achievements in their respective sports.”

Pintens did not respond to questions from The Times for this article.

Lions swimmer Alena Sharp has started an online petition in an effort to save the soon-to-be-cut programs. As of Friday morning, the petition has received close to 3,000 signatures.

“Starting a petition isn’t something I would normally do, but I was moved to do so because of the utter devastation that us athletes, who have worked so hard for this opportunity, feel,” Sharp wrote. “I know I’m not alone and together we can make this change happen.”

No matter how many signatures the petition gets, however, it may not help the affected sports. One of the questions listed on the school’s FAQ page about the cuts asks if the decision can be repealed or reversed.

The school’s answer is “No.”

“The LMU Athletic Director made this decision with the full support of university leadership,” the website reads. “While we acknowledge that this decision is disappointing, the university is confident that this path supports the best interests of our student-athletes and the goals of LMU Athletics.”

Pintens launched a sweeping evaluation of LMU’s intercollegiate sports program last fall and made his decision to drop the school’s number of teams from 20 to the NCAA minimum of 14 with the endorsement of university President Timothy Law Snyder. A report based on the study, posted Tuesday on LMU’s website, cites the NCAA rules related to NIL and the transfer portal and the “pending rulings on student-athletes as employees” among the reasons for the cuts.

“Our goal is to provide the best student-athlete experience possible, and we are better positioned to achieve our objectives when we concentrate our finite resources on fewer programs,” Pintens wrote in his open letter.

“These changes also reflect the realities of the transformational changes impacting college athletics nationally. The NCAA landscape is changing rapidly, and schools of all sizes must adapt to provide the best student-athlete experience while becoming even more competitive. LMU is no exception.”

The Lions compete in the NCAA Division I-AAA and the West Coast Conference. The university said in a press release that it will help impacted student-athletes by “honoring their athletic financial aid if they remain at LMU for their undergraduate studies” and offering assistance to those who decide to transfer in order to compete for another school.

“These are our friends, classmates, colleagues, and members of the Lion family,” Pintens wrote, “and we will provide our support and care to each of them through this transition.”

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