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Duquesne AD breaks silence on decision

| Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

CINCINNATI — As e-mail messages of protest from angry and puzzled parents, students and alumni continued in the wake of Duquesne's recent announcement that it was eliminating four men's sports at the end of their seasons, the school broke its silence on the matter Thursday.

Athletics director Greg Amodio offered both words of encouragement and regret over the school's decision to cease sponsoring baseball, wrestling, men's swimming and men's golf and reallocate funding to its 16 remaining varsity sports.

"The timing of the announcement was such that, while it had gained approval in the fall, we didn't want to disrupt finals," Amodio said. "And we certainly didn't want to wait until the spring. By doing it now, we chose to give those affected by the decision better choices. Had we waited, there's a good chance that scholarship monies at other schools would not be as plentiful."

Amodio said facilities and the delicate matter of Title IX played roles in the matter.

"In reviewing our programs, we took a hard look at the facilities of these sports and just found that it wasn't possible to keep them going without changes," Amodio said, acknowledging that a sagging economy also played a factor in the school's decision.

Baseball, wrestling and golf compete off campus, while the swimming program's facilities lacks a diving well, which Amodio said "puts us at a competitive disadvantage."

Speaking before Duquesne's Atlantic 10 men's basketball game at Xavier, Amodio addressed the ever-present issue of Title IX, which promotes gender equity, and its part in the move to eliminate the four men's sports.

"We took a good, hard look at that and wanted to make sure we fit the mold of Title IX for years to come," he said. "We worked with an outside consultant, nationally respected on Title IX issues, and all of our initiatives have been approved."

The deductions give Duquesne a total of seven men's and nine women's programs. Men's and women's basketball and football, the school's marquee sports, likely will receive a good portion of the $1.5 million that Amodio said would be available from the four doomed sports.

"We want to enhance our existing women's sports, and in the case of football, we're increasing our scholarship funding to keep in line with the Northeast Conference's decision to increase the number (eventually to 36 scholarship equivalencies), and we're adding some staffing and a full-time strength and conditioning coach to our entire spectrum."

Amodio reiterated that the roughly 70 athletes affected by decision will receive assistance from the school if the athletes choose to transfer to another school and that they wouldn't be penalized by losing scholarship monies this year.

In addition, the contracts of four full-time coaches and one assistant involved with the affected sports will be honored through June 30.

Duquesne's annual department operating budget is $10.8 million.

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