Q. Why is UNCW extensively renovating the women’s softball field when this was a sport that was going to be eliminated? Seems that this had to have been planned well in advance. Why would UNCW spend money on a sport that was on the chopping block unless they knew all along nothing was going to be cut.
A. Plans to renovate the UNCW softball field were finalized in May, according to Joe Browning, the athletic department’s senior associate athletic director for communications. The project includes a complete rebuild of the infield and outfield with projected cost of $125,000, which is being covered in full by a donor.
The university opted to resurface the field, Browning said, because it wants to be competitive in the Colonial Athletic Association and seek the league’s automatic bid. In an interview earlier this summer, UNCW chancellor Gary Miller expressed optimism the softball program is on the rise. He’s intrigued by cable sports network ESPN’s decision to televise NCAA regional games in the sport. He believes widespread softball participation in North Carolina high schools could help the Seahawks improve a program that’s enjoyed one winning season since 1999.
UNCW softball is entering its second year under coach Kristy Norton. The Seahawks were 16-37 overall last season and 3-17 in the CAA, where they’ve finished better than sixth just twice since the conference started conducting championships in the sport in 2004.
In May, the Intercollegiate Athletics Review Committee appointed by chancellor Miller recommended that softball and four other sports be eliminated from the university’s 19-sport athletic portfolio. Miller spared all sports, and in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, is exploring other avenues to provide more financial support for all athletic teams, which are the lowest funded in the CAA. The athletic department’s budget is on the agenda at the BOT meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Aug. 22-23.
Date posted: August 19, 2013
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