More than 60 student athletes at Radford University have tough decisions to make after learning their sports programs are being cut.
The women's swimming and dive team at Radford University is solid, unafraid and academically, on the mark. Still, that wasn't enough to save it or women's field hockey, or the men's indoor and outdoor track and field teams, from being dropped from the RU sports roster.
Radford University athletic director Robert Lineburg spoke outside the Dedmon Center on Friday.
"This decision did not come lightly. It was a tough decision for us but I think everybody knows the world of athletics has changed and it's just the resources and the allocation of resources just became difficult," Lineburg said.
RU announced it was cutting four of its 19 sports programs earlier this week. Some 65 student-athletes must now decide if they finish their education here or transfer to another school that may or may not take them on their team.
Laura Bradley is a freshman on the women's swim and dive team. She plans on transferring.
"I came here for swimming. I looked into Radford only for swimming, and academics was just part of the deal. I came to swim so that's I have to do,” Bradley said.
Radford University competes in the Big South Conference. Lineburg says competing financially is at the heart of a very hard decision for the university.
"The pressure to find sports, particularly if you're not in the top five where the big TV money is coming in, I can't emphasize it enough. It's difficult for many schools.
Cutting the four programs, says Lineburg, will save RU $724,000 a year and will be reinvested in the remaining 14 programs.
As I spoke with Lineburg, who is going into his eighth year as athletic director, his eyes were tearing up. I asked if he was emotional over the decision. "Oh gosh yes. Incredibly," he said, then wiped his eyes.
Members of the swim and dive team have one meet left, and then it's no more at RU.
Morgan Sullivan is a junior on the swim team. She said student-athletes could have been given more notice that the university was cutting their sport.
"We hear about teams getting cut across the country and it sadly is a common thing, but we honestly didn't see it happening here," Sullivan said.
RU says it will continue providing scholarship money to every student-athlete affected, if they choose to stay at the university.