Saturday, February 10, 2007

Columbus Dispatch Letter

Track and field does many positive things for schools

Saturday, February 10, 2007

As a former college cross-country and track athlete, a brother of two Ohio University graduates, the editor and publisher of RUNOHIO and a high-school teacher and cross-country and track coach in the Columbus area, I hope Ohio University officials will look at the overall negative impact to the university if they vote to drop men’s outdoor track and field.

When I think of Ohio University, I think of the oldest university in the Northwest Territory, which has a strong tradition of academics and athletics. I also think of a men’s track and field program that has been part of the university for more than 100 years.

I hope before voting to drop men’s track and field, officials will take a look at why Miami University did not drop its men’s outdoor track and field program.

It is my understanding that one of the main reasons Miami did not drop track and field was it saw track as one of the programs that attracted minorities to the university. One of Miami’s trustees was able to convince the board that it would not be a smart decision to drop the sport.

Track and field is the oldest sport known to mankind. More countries participate in track at the Olympic Games than any other sport.

Ohio has 728 boys high-school track and field teams. Only basketball and baseball are offered by more schools than boys track and field. The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s State Track and Field Championships will celebrate their 100 th anniversary this June.

There are nearly 2,000 members of the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches. Most of these members are teachers in Ohio high schools and have a tremendous influence on high-school students.

I would think that there are more Ohio University track and field alumni than any other group of athletic alumni at Ohio University. Probably 30 to 45 students are walk-ons participating in men’s track and field and paying tuition to Ohio University. I have found that the cross-country and track and field teams have some of the highest grade-point averages and graduation rates of all intercollegiate teams.

It is my understanding that since Western Michigan University dropped a number of men’s athletic programs three years ago, there has been an uprising of alumni and teachers and friends, who have held their donations to the university and encouraged high-school students not to attend Western Michigan.

It is also my understanding that Western Michigan’s enrollment is down nearly 18 percent since it dropped a number of men’s athletic programs.

I think if officials look at the impact of dropping men’s outdoor track and field at Ohio University, they will realize that it does not make educational, economic, business or political sense. I hope they will vote to keep the program.



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