The Pacific men’s volleyball team is on the chopping blocks.
Pacific athletics director Ted Leland announced Friday that he is recommending the university eliminate the men’s volleyball program following the 2014 season in an effort increase funding to the school’s new strategic investment.
The Focusing on Our Future is a new initiative launched by Pacific with the goal of generating $15 million in strategic investment funds to enhance the university’s education environment while limiting the rise of student tuition.
“This type of decision is very difficult,” Leland said in a statement.
The Pacific athletics department did not respond or comment to Off the Block’s interview requests.
Despite Leland making the recommendation to cut the men’s volleyball program, it is not a guarantee the university will follow through on the proposed cut.
Pacific will hold a series of town hall meetings and seek online comments during the next few weeks before the final cost cutting recommendations are submitted to the school’s president on Sept. 20.
The men’s volleyball team at $68,023 has the eighth lowest yearly operating budget of the 16 Pacific teams, according to the most recent report released by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, the Pacific men’s volleyball team’s budget is almost $100,000 less than the Pacific women’s volleyball team’s budget.
The Tigers men’s volleyball team, according to the report, also accounts for 4.3 percent of the athletics department’s total operating budget.
Pacific had a total team operating budget of about $1.56 million with men’s teams at a combined $786,972 spending slightly more than women’s teams.
The recommendation to cut the Pacific men’s volleyball team comes less than a year after the athletics department added three new sports, including women’s sand volleyball. Pacific announced in November that along with sand volleyball beginning in 2013 it would men’s soccer and women’s track and field.
If Pacific cuts its men’s volleyball program, it will be the first NCAA Division I-II school to eliminate men’s volleyball since Mercyhurst in 2008.
Pacific started its men’s volleyball program in 1993 and in the last 20 years has produced five All-American selections — the most of any Pacific program during that time period. The Tigers, though, have not reached the MPSF Tournament since 2004 and have not had a winning season since 2003.
Pacific players and fans since Leland’s announcement to eliminate the team have been active protesting the recommendation through social media and online.
An online petition to save the Pacific men’s volleyball team at change.org has received more than 3,000 signatures within the first 36 hours of being published.
Pacific coach Joe Wortmann was unavailable for an interview when contacted by Off the Block. The coach, though, stated in an email to Off the Block that Leland will meet with him following the town hall series to talk about the future of Pacific men’s volleyball.