Pacific men’s volleyball is the latest causality in the series of university-wide budget cuts.
Pacific athletics director Ted Leland informed the Tigers’ coaching staff and players Wednesday afternoon that the school president has approved an athletics department proposal to eliminate the team following the 2014 season, according to an email obtain by Off the Block.
The email sent from Leland and Pacific president Pam Eibeck to the players’ parents stated school officials made the decision in an effort to further fund the university’s new strategic initiative and reduce the athletics department budget by 5 percent.
“While we hope that you will understand our decision, we can imagine that this news is still very disappointing,” Leland and Eibeck stated in the email. “It would be very hard news for us to take as well, if it were happening to our children. We have the deepest respect for the advocacy you have shown on your sons’ behalf. You made excellent and often poignant points about your families’ and sons’ love of volleyball and of Pacific. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspectives with us.”
Leland and Eibeck also said it opted to eliminate the men’s volleyball team because of the school’s commitment to the West Coast Conference and the team’s lack of recent success.
Unlike other sports at Pacific, the WCC does not sponsor men’s volleyball and the team remains a member of the MPSF. In addition, the Tigers have not finished with a winning record and qualified for the eight-team MPSF Tournament in almost a decade.
Despite its struggles to reach the postseason, men’s volleyball since it became a varsity sport under Leland in the 1990s had produced the most All-American selections of any Pacific team during the last 20 years.
Pacific is the first NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team to be eliminated since Mercyhurst following the 2008 season.
The athletics department in September submitted a proposal to eliminate its men’s volleyball team as part of Pacific’s new financial campaign “Focusing on Our Future.” As part of this new strategic initiative, Eibeck had requested all departments on campus submit recommendations on how to cut 5 percent from each of their budgets.
The initial recommendation to cut the team was met with significant protest from the volleyball community and the Pacific fan-base.
More than 6,000 people signed an online petition requesting the school reject the athletics department proposal. Multiple NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players and coaches at other schools also contacted Leland to express concern about cutting the men’s volleyball team.
Following the initial proposal, Leland amended his recommendation to allow the team to remain at school following the 2014 season if it could privately fund itself.
Leland and Eibeck, though, announced Wednesday that it decided to eliminate that amendment and not provide the team an opportunity to fundraise for the 2015 season.
Pacific will save about $100,000 per year by eliminating its men’s volleyball team, Leland said in a previous interview with Off the Block. The Tigers men’s volleyball team, according to the latest U.S. Department of Education report, accounted for 4.3 percent of the athletics department’s total operating budget.
“The decision to eliminate one sport, rather than cut resources to all sports, is the right decision given our goal to enhance the excellence of our overall athletics program,” Leland and Eibeck said.
Pacific as part of its decision to eliminate men’s volleyball will continue to honor any athletic scholarships of players on the team through their projected graduation dates. In addition, Pacific players under NCAA rules would have the option to transfer and become immediately eligible to play with their new schools for the 2015 season.
Pacific is scheduled to make a formal announcement Thursday about eliminating its men’s volleyball program.