The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - March 22, 1993 - Page 5
Continued from page 1
"A trend in athletics is tiering, we
realize, and we're aware of it, and
we want to be a viabie program
when tiering becomes a reality,"
Darden said. "We want to be able to
be leaders in that."
Board members, while in support
of further study of it, said tiering is
not an immediate possibility.
"I think that's (tiering) always a
continuing possibility," said Richard
Kennedy, Vice President For
Government Relations and Secretary
of the University and board member.
"And I think that's one of the con-
siderations that'll shape the whole
program in intercollegiate athletics.
How do we accommodate the stu-
dents' interest in a whole range of
sports? You can't make them all
varsity sports, but how do we tier
them in such a way that you maxi-
mize the opportunities for participa-
tion? I think that's one of the guiding
principles that the board is looking
at. What's the best way to make
participation available to the widest
group of students, men and women?
"I don't think we've (the board)
thought about it in the context of
tiering right now.... First, we've got
to find out where it's (men's gym-
nastics) gonna go, whether it's going
to stay or not stay as an intercolle-
giate athletic sport. Then the ques-
tion of tiering comes up, and tiering
is going to be applicable to a whole
range of sports. How many of these
programs at that level can be sup-
ported is another question the board
is going to have to face."
One other option Duderstadt has
mentioned is instituting a student fee
to be given to the Athletic
Department. Currently, the Athletic
Department receives no money from
the University's general fund.
This fee would allow Michigan to
sponsor more sports - some par-
tially - instead of cutting them.
Some sports that could benefit from
this fee would be crew, lacrosse,
men's soccer and men's gymnastics.
Board members also cited the
eventual separation between the
NCAA and gymnastics as a reason
for terminating the men's program.
The NCAA decided this past
January that it would only sanction
sports that have at least 40 partici-
pants. RIght now, 36 schools have
squads. Due to the new rule change,
the NCAA allotted a two-year mora-
torium on sponsorship terminations,
meaning all sports would be safe
through the 1995 season. After this
point, however, men's gymnastics
will be in serious jeopardy.
"These programs in men's gym-
nastics are being dropped around the
country," board member and
Associate Professor of Applied
Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering
and Applied Mechanics Bruce
Karnopp said. "The consensus is the
NCAA will be dropping it in a cou-
ple of years. The fact is that those
days are numbered, and while I think
each one of us feels that that's at
least a partially unfortunate thing to
do ... the facts are the facts."
Karnopp, a two-year board mem-
ber, also explained that the board
Change is going to
happen, but change
done appropriately and
responsbily can be
done very well, to the
benefit of all,
- Bob Darden
Men's gymnastics coach
had little interest in waiting for the
NCAA to officially sever its ties
don't think that waiting two years on
the assumption that the NCAA
would drop it at that time would be a
good idea. If you're deciding things
for the University, you want to make
a University decision and not let that
be dictated by what the NCAA either
does or doesn't do."
The gymnastics community ex-
pressed disappointment with the
board s decision.
"It's a real blow to men's gym-
nastics at Michigan," former men's
coach Newt Loken said. "It's a sad
d) for the coaches and the athletes."
Loken ran the Michigan men's
gymnastics program from 1948 to
1983, compiling a 240-72-1 record.
Although he was not entirely famil-
iar with the situation, he said he re-
gretted that another solution could
not have been found to meet the
gender equity requirements.
"I don't think anyone wants to
see the sport dropped," he said.
"I think it's a shame," women's
gymnastics coach Bev Plocki said.
"Those athletes that are on the men's
team work just as hard and care just
as much and support Michigan just
as much as any other team, so I was
very, very sorry and shocked to hear
that that had happened. I certainly
hope that if they have another year
here, that they can do something to
make the Board of Regents recon-
sider that decision."
Plocki also differed with the as-
sertion stated in the press release that
gymnastics particiaption was dwin-
dling. Much like Darden, Plocki ac-
knowledged the transition from em-
phasis on high school programs to
"The thing about gymnastics that
I don't think that people realize, is
that we don't get our feeder system
from the high schools," Plocki said.
"So it doesn't really matter in a
sense (about) the high school pro-
grams. What matters to us is the
'The consensus is the
NCAA will be dropping
it in a couple of years.
While I think each one
of us feels that
is at least a partially
unfortunate thing to
do ... the facts are the
- Bruce Karnopp
Board in Control of
USGF programs.... Gymnastics is a
sport that has got to be trained year-
round. It cannot be a seasonal thing
like how high schools do.
"(Gymnastics) is not a very func-
tional sport for high schools, but it's
a very functional sport for private
clubs," she said. "And it's just like
taking your son or your daughter to a
ballet lesson. It's a private training.
"The other biggest point that's
really a shame about the whole thing
is that our United States Olympic
team for men is practically 100 per-
cent made up from our men's colle-
Men's gymnastics future in jeopardy
Gender equity, cost-culling measures, dwindling pailicipation doom spoil nation wide
by Bryn Mickle
Daily Staff Reporter
The decision to eliminate the
men's gymnastics program at
Michigan is being viewed by many
people in the gymnastics community
as another step toward the extinction
of the sport on the collegiate level.
Michigan's expected announce-
ment to drop its program comes one
month after another major univer-
sity, Arizona State University
(ASU), came to the conclusion that
men's gymnastics is expendable.
ASU won the men's NCAA cham-
pionship in 1985.
"The decision was based on the
fact that only four Pac-10 schools
have men's gymnastics programs
and the decreasing rate of participa-
tion (by other schools) in the
NCAA," said Herman Frazier, ASU
associate athletic director.
The NCAA has said that it will
make a decision in 1995 on whether
or not to continue to sponsor a na-
tional championship for the sport.
The trend to cut men's gymnas-
tics is not a new phenomenon. Over
the last 10 years, the number of
NCAA Division I schools that have
sponsored the sport has dropped
from 130 to 35.
Two years ago, Wisconsin-
Oshkosh decided to cut its men's
program. Wisconsin-Oshkosh's ath-
letic director, Al Ackerman, said the
decision was made for financial rea-
sons, in addition to the fact that par-
ticipation in boys' high school gym-
nastics is in decline.
Susan True from the National
Federation of State High School As-
sociation, said that last year there
were 3,475 male gymnasts - not
including approximately 200 boys
from Texas which does not sponsor
True estimates that this shows a
25 percent drop form 10 years ago.
This trend is continuing as three
states - Colorado, Nebraska and
Kansas - have recently ended
sponsorship of the sport. Indiana
also has dropped boy's gymnastics
as a sport in the last 10 years.
Michigan gymnastics coach Bob
Darden said this belief that boys'
participation is declining was cited
by the athletic department as a major
factor in their decision to cut the
"That's a wonderful dodge,"
countered Robert Cowan, the men's
program director for the United
States Gymnastics Federation
He said that while it is true that
The men's gymnastics coaches ponder the athletic departments decision to terminate the squad in favor of a
women's soccer team.
there is a decline in the number of
high school programs, it is due to the
increased number of private gymnas-
tics clubs around the nation.
"There are 4,500 private clubs
registered with USGF," he said.
"We estimate another 10,000 clubs
that are not registered with us."
Cowan said that the reason for
this increase is the fact that training
regimens in the clubs are more spe-
cific and have a higher level of ex-
He added that the trend to recruit
out of the clubs is not limited to the
sport of gymnastics. He cited.
wrestling, swimming, and track as'
sports that do much of their recruit-
ing from the clubs.
"The kids are out there to be re-
cruited," he said. "They're just in a
Critics of the decision to drop
men's gymnastics also question the
validity of the gender equity argu-
ment. Last June, the Big Ten past a
Gender Equity Act that mandates
each Big Ten school must have at
least 40 percent of its athletes be
female by 1997. Each school must
have a plan to achieve that goal by
Currently, the NCAA has de-
cided to put the gender equity issue
aside until it can study the matter
further. The issue is expected to be
the major topic of discussion of next
Diane DeMarco, coach of Iowa's
women's gymnastics team, added,
"You don't need to cut sports to sat-
isfy the dictates of gender equity;
there are other options."
One of the other options schools
have is the practice of "tiering"
sports. Tiering would provide partial
funding for the sport, while still al-
lowing competition on a national
One Big Ten school currently
employs the practice of tiering. Penn
State has had success tiering sports
and serves as a model for other
schools considering it as an option.
However, most schools,
including Michigan, are hesitant to
employ the tier system as a method
to preserve programs.
Arizona State's men's gymnastic
program was willing to accept tier
status, but the athletic department
refused to consider the plan.
"The concept of tiering was not
considered," said Frazier, "ASU's
philosophy is one of total support or
none at all."
did not consider tiering as an alterna-
tive to elimination.
The USGF has offered financial
assistance to keep collegiate gym--
nastics alive, but has been met with
massive resistance from the NCAA.
"We offered to completely finan-
cially underwrite the men's NCAA
national championship," Cowan
said. "The NCAA told us thanks, but
Cowan added that if Michigan's
motive for dropping the program is
financial, USGF would like the op-
portunity to provide financial assis-
The USGF made an offer to
completely underwrite Indiana State
University's (ISU) program a few
years ago, but was told that ISU did
not want outside assistance.
As more schools target men's
gymnastics for cuts, the sport comes
closer to disappearing from the col-
If Michigan does drop its pro-
gram, the consequences for other
Big Ten schools will be dire.
The Big Ten requires the partici-
pation of six schools in order to hold
a conference championship. The
elimination of Michigan will take
the current number of teams to the
bare minimum, meaning the cutting
of any other Big Ten program will
result in the end of conference men's
While no other conference school
has cut men's gymnastics of yet,
other schools are still looking at
which sports they will cut.
Angry men tumblers hope to reverse decision
by Scott Burton
Daily Sports Writer
The athletes on the men's gym-
nastics team learned after their
spring break road trip of the Athletic
Department's decision to drop their
program Yet many Wolverines are
still struggling to understand the rea-
soning behind the decision.
"I think maybe we're not sure
why or what the reasons are to drop
men's gymnastics," sophomore
Brian Winkler said. "We think that
they could have gone at it a different
way, but that's the way they decided
Junior Seth Rubin shared
"I think it is a terrible move on
the part of the Athletic Department,"
Rubin said. "Michigan is becoming a
leads- not in athletics but in drop-
ping a sport. I think Michigan is tak-
ing , lead in ruining one of the old-
est sports in the NCAA.
"Their actual reasoning, I don't
know, but a lot has to do with the
administration not being sympathetic
to what they say is the most impor-
tant thing, which is the student-ath-
lete," Rubin added.
Many on the team share Rubin's
concern to whether Michigan is
overlooking the concerns of the ath-
letes in the program.
"I would not have come to school
here if it had not been for the oppor-
tunity to compete in gymnastics,"
sophomore Rich Dopp said. "I'm not
sure whether the Athletic
Department worries about that. I'm
hoping that the President will see
that the athletic opportunity here at
the school is what brings in a lot of
Although many on the
Wolverines don't question the Big
pete for Michigan and we're just
"It's very easy for them to see
that there are 20 guys that they can
drop and approach their gender eq-
uity or whatever there belief of it is,
which is very unclear," Dopp said.
"If you look at the high school
level, I believe participation in sports
is 75% male and 25% female, and in
doing that (gender equity) you're
obviously going to reduce the oppor-
tunities for men. I don't see any rea-
son that you have to reduce to have
The men's gymnastics team is.
prepared to fight the decision until
its sport is saved. Part of the battle is
going to be fought next year, when
the team will attempt to prove itself
as a worthy program to the Athletic
Department. It doesn't hurt that, af-
ter graduating no one from this
year's team, the Wolverines look
like one of the premier teams in the
NCAA in 1994.
"We know that without a doubt
that we'll be Big Ten champions
next year," said Rubin. "We're a
good team - we have the athletes.
It's just going to take a lot of time to
fight for the program."
"I don't look towards next year
as my next season - I look towards
that as a season where we have to do
well and just have a lot of fun," said
Dopp. "But also we're going to do a
lot of work on our own just to show
them that we're here and we're
hoping to stay."
Despite the Wolverines' common
desire to save the program past
1994, the team varies in optimism as
to whether it can actually happen.
"Personally, as a sophomore, I
always hoped I would go through
my senior year and at this point I
don't see any reason why I would-
n't," Dopp said. "There are a lot of
options out there that haven't yet
been considered by the Athletic
Director or even the Big Ten, and
I'm sure they'll come to light at
some point, and I hope that they are
"It's going to take a lot of corre-
spondence through the university
and I don't know if we're going to
be able to ... talk to people like
Duderstadt, like the new Athletic
Director," said Rubin. "If we can't
have that kind of contact, because of
all that red tape, then I'm not
Lady kickers out of the club
giate programs. And that's untrue for
the women. For the women, our
Olympic team is generally made up
of all of our little 14- or 15-year
olds, but our men's programs, most
all of our Olympic competitors have
been from collegiate programs."
The men's gymnastics program
has competed from 1931 to 1933,
and from 1948 to the present.
Even with the deletion of men's
gymnastics and addition of women's
soccer, more changes will have to be
made in the Michigan athletic pro-
gram for gender equity to be met.
Whereas the split now stands at 67
percent men, 33 percent women, it
will become 65-35 if these changes
Ro through. No one. from the gym-
by Tim Spolar
Daily Sports Writer _
They had heard about it for more
than a month. First it was going to
happen, but then it didn't. Now,
finally, one of the Michigan wo-
men's soccer team's biggest goals
Today, the Michigan Athletic De-
partment will announce the elevation
of the women's soccer team to var-
sity status, set to commence in the
fall of 1994. The move is seen by
some as the reward of persistence
against the bureaucratic red tape of
the entity that Michigan athletics
"We've had a really good rela-
tionship with (Associate Athletic
Director) Peggy (Bradley-Doppes) in
respect and fringe benefits that result
from becoming a varsity program.
"It's going to be nice, because
they are going to have everything set
up for us to step right into," Taylor
said. "That fall (of 1994), they will
give us our own academic advisors,
our practice jerseys, our game jer-
seys, our after-game meal money -
'It's going to be nice...
they are going to have
everything set up for
us to step right into,'
to be. So you've got those things to
think about in the long term in addi-
tion, of course, to going out and
having to hire a coach."
According to Taylor, the club's
current president, the course of ac-
tion currently under consideration in-
cludes acquiring a new piece of prop-
erty near the University's golf course
on which a first-class field and ac-
companying facilities will be con-
structed. The athletic department also
plans on beginning an immediate na-
tionwide search for a head coach.
While the future seems rosy for
Michigan soccer, there is a downside
to the situation, namely the demo-
tion of men's gymnastics from var-
sity status. The move is seen as nec-
essary, however, in the University's
everything (that is normally included
in a varsity program)."
Immediate concerns resulting