The following message was sent from Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick G. Ryan, President Julie Sullivan, and Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten to the St. Thomas community on May 11.
Today, we write to share some difficult news: After extensive evaluation, we have made the decision to discontinue our men’s and women’s varsity tennis programs at the end of the academic year. Earlier today, both teams gathered with President Julie Sullivan, Board of Trustees Chairman Pat Ryan and Vice President and Director of Athletics Phil Esten to learn this news firsthand.
This hard decision was made in consultation with St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees following the evaluation of our entire athletics department’s resources, including: facilities, staff and personnel, ongoing athletic scholarship support, competitiveness, peer institution portfolios and our long-term financial model. St. Thomas is committed to giving all our student-athletes a chance to pursue comprehensive excellence in competition and in the classroom. After evaluating, however, we determined we are unable to adequately provide the conditions necessary for our tennis programs to sustain that comprehensive excellence at the Division I level. For example, we have no dedicated facilities on or off campus and do not have plans for them in the future. The move will reduce our varsity sport portfolio to 20, bringing us in closer alignment with other Summit League institutions. There are no plans to discontinue any other athletic programs.
We understand this news deeply disappoints many people, but none more so than the 27 student-athletes and coaches who dedicated themselves to this program, as well as program alumni. For 100 years, our tennis student-athletes and coaches have demonstrated great sportsmanship and represented St. Thomas with dignity and grace, both in the classroom and on the court. And just this past weekend, our women’s team made us proud by capturing the MIAC championship to secure an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. We are thankful for all these two programs have accomplished for St. Thomas. We are indebted to our coaches, led by Ken Cychosz, who have developed their players as athletes, students and people.
Going forward, we will support everyone affiliated with our tennis program to make this transition as smooth as possible. We will honor all employment agreements with our coaches and support all affected student-athletes – whether they choose to remain at St. Thomas to finish their degrees or transfer elsewhere to pursue varsity tennis alongside academics. Tennis will continue to be available as a club sport at St. Thomas.
While today’s news is painful, we are fully confident making these hard choices will help us flourish in the future while providing an outstanding student-athlete experience. Additional information is available here.
Please join us in thanking our tennis student-athletes, coaches and alumni and keep them in your thoughts in the days and weeks ahead.