Pacific has a chance to save its men’s volleyball team if the program can independently raise enough funds.
Athletics director Ted Leland said Friday in an interview with Off the Block that he has amended his initial recommendation to cut the program and allow the team to remain at Pacific if it can financially sustain itself following the 2014 season.
This change comes two weeks after Leland proposed eliminating the sport following the school year as part of a university-wide effort to cut every department’s budget by 5 percent and reinvest the money in a new strategic initiative.
The new recommendation, Leland said, has not been accepted by the university’s president and the fate of the men’s volleyball team will remain undecided until mid-October. Leland also said he is confident the team can succeed in privately funding itself.
“If they are given the opportunity to fund themselves, I think they can do it,” he said. “There is enough interest and people like this program enough that there will be an ability to fund it.”
Pacific men’s volleyball had an operating budget at $68,023, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Education report released in November 2012. The Tigers, though, have one of the lowest operating budgets in the MPSF.
Pacific men’s volleyball since the initial proposal to cut the program has received significant support throughout the campus and the volleyball community.
More than 600 people attended an all-campus meeting in early September to discuss the budget cuts. In addition, a petition on change.org asking the university to keep men’s volleyball has received almost 7,000 signature, while other college men’s volleyball coaches have encouraged their players to email Leland protesting the proposal.
“We’ve got a lot of complaints and concerns,” Leland said.
Despite all the objections to the proposed cut, Leland said he has been proud and impressed with how the Pacific men’s volleyball players have conducted themselves during this process.
“Throughout this whole process they have been thoughtful, engaged, diligent and persuasive in their presentation to the campus,” he said. “I think they have won more fans than I have in the last week and a half.”
Leland said the initial decision to cut men’s volleyball was difficult for him to make.
Along with being the Pacific athletics director, Leland has served on the USA Volleyball board of directors and worked to created a men’s volleyball team at Pacific in 1990.
“I have a great deal of affection for the community of volleyball and the sport of volleyball but I’m afraid that only made my decision harder,” Leland said.