CCU athletes devastated after men's track and X-country programs are dropped

Coastal Carolina men's track and field coach Jeff Jacobs said his students were "absolutely devastated" when they heard the news that the program along with the men's cross country team will be dropped following the 2013-14 season. Jacobs offered details to the announcement that was released to the media on Thursday at 6:00 pm.

"I was shocked to hear the news. (CCU athletic director) Hunter (Yurachek) brought me into his office today and I found out the news around noon time today," Jacobs said. "I had some inkling that there could be some cuts to sports this year. I knew there were budget cuts and the board of trustees were looking to cut some programs including athletics, but I was hoping cutting a sport was not the option that was chosen. The way it went was we had a meeting at 5:00 with Hunter Yurachek and the other senior staff and Hunter presented it to the team. Hunter pretty much laid it out, as the release says on the website. The students were absolutely devastated, some left as soon as Hunter was done explaining. We're obviously visibly upset."

The CCU men's track team won two Big South titles in its history with the cross-country program gaining the top spot three times. The move effects 40 total athletes. Cross country runners are counted twice which represents the 50 athletes that are being eliminated. A petition has been started on Twitter to try and save the track and cross country programs. Every athlete will be able to keep their scholarship if they choose to stay at Coastal Carolina beyond the end of the 2014 track season. A $250,000 budget cut requested by CCU's Board of Trustees and Title IX are two factors in the elimination of the program, according to the press release. You can read that full release below including quotes from Yurachek.

From Coastal Carolina Sports Information:

CONWAY - Coastal Carolina University announced today the discontinuation of the men's cross country/outdoor track and field programs, effective at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.

Coastal Carolina University will compete in a full schedule of events in both men's cross country and outdoor track and field during the 2013-14 season, including the Big South Championships and any NCAA postseason opportunities. Coastal will additionally honor the scholarships of those student-athletes who wish to continue their education at CCU beyond the 2013-14 season.

The Coastal Carolina Administration and the Board of Trustees authorized this step in order to reach the optimal combination of sport offerings that would provide quality opportunities to CCU student-athletes while remaining in compliance with Title IX and exercising fiscal responsibility.

Coastal Carolina has a legal obligation to comply with the federal Title IX law in relation to gender equity. Also, in response to these challenging financial times, the University Board of Trustees made a commitment to reduce its operating budget by $1 million for the 2013-14 academic year rather than raise in-state tuition. As part of the budget reduction, the Department of Athletics was directed to cut $250,000 from its operating budget. Meeting these new budgetary guidelines would not be possible without a significant change. The elimination of men's cross country/track and field programs best addresses both of these issues.

Title IX requires that the gender ratio of an institution's athletic programs reflect that of its student body. The total female/male student population at CCU is 54 percent female to 46 percent male. CCU introduced Women's Lacrosse as an NCAA sport in 2013, which added 25 female student-athletes and demonstrated a continual expansion of athletic opportunity for the underrepresented sex.

For total Title IX compliance, further steps were necessary. Approximately 50 student-athletes participate in the men's cross country/track and field programs annually. Discontinuation of the program will ultimately help Coastal reach full Title IX compliance.

"This decision is a very painful one for me, as a former student-athlete, and for the whole Coastal Carolina community," said CCU Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek. "We understand the impact it will have on the student-athletes and their families, which is why we will continue to honor their scholarships.

"I am extremely proud of the way our current and past men's cross country/track and field student-athletes have represented Coastal Carolina University. I am also grateful for the numerous contributions and accomplishments of our men's cross country/track and field athletes both on and off the competition field. This decision is in no way meant to diminish the legacy of our men's cross country/track and field student-athletes, and we will forever consider you Chanticleers."

The discontinuation of men's cross country/outdoor track and field programs will leave CCU with the NCAA Division I minimum of 16 intercollegiate sports programs.