COLUMBUS, Miss. - Mississippi University for Women provided an update on the consideration to return to intercollegiate athletics during Homecoming festivities.
The panel discussion was led by Perry Sansing, legal counsel and chair of the Athletic Committee. Included on the panel were: Dr. Rita Hinton, professor emerita and member of the Phase I committee; Dr. Tom Velek, professor and U.S. Youth Soccer Coach of the Year; Nora Miller, senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer of the university.
The panel addressed approximately 50 stakeholders and former athletes about the progress made as the university considers a return to organized athletics on campus.
The process has been broken up into three phases: an external review – to determine if the city, state and region would be willing to support an athletic program at The W; an internal review – to determine if the campus population and facilities could support an athletic program and what form, determine which sports should be included in that program, and determine which athletic association the university should join; the final phase would be to acquire the necessary funding to support an athletic funding.
“Under current rules, the university is only allowed to use its operational budget to fund 10 percent of the athletic budget,” explained Miller. “That means 90 percent of the funding would need to come from private sources.”
During the panel, Sansing said the 16-member Phase I committee unanimously supported a return to athletics. He added that the Phase I committee raised some issues that would have to be addressed including dressing rooms for opposing players (current facilities were not built with intercollegiate athletics in mind), funding for travel, Title IX compliance and medical services.
After presenting the findings of the Phase I committee, Sansing asked the panel and the audience which sports they thought would be well-received by the campus. Dr. Hinton mentioned an increased popularity in youth lacrosse in the Southeast. Dr. Velek noted a lack of men’s intercollegiate soccer teams in the region could provide The W with an opportunity to recruit high-caliber players. Members of the audience agreed with Velek’s proposal for men’s and women’s soccer team, and added softball, volleyball, tennis, golf, and basketball as possible sports for the campus.
Sansing noted that the Phase II committee had been delayed by the university’s 10-year accreditation review, but that the committee was planning to meet in the near future.
If you are interested in financially supporting a return to athletics, the MUW Foundation has established an Athletics Fund. To make a contribution to the fund, call the Foundation at (662) 329-7148 or visit www.muwfoundation.org.