Temple Univ. athletes plead to save their sports

PHILADELPHIA - January 28, 2014

Back in December when Temple cut seven varsity sports, the student athletes were told it was a done deal. Today, inside a meeting room at the Liacouras Center, a glimmer of hope as they had a chance to stand up, and have their voices heard.

Michael Bittner of the Men's Gymnastics team tells Action News, "Temple's Men's Gymnastics program actually does… we bring that income into the university. We don't cost a single dime to be here. We went off of the success rate we have with the past, I believe, four out of five years we've had the highest GPA out of all teams here."

For Michael Bittner and his teammates, today was about saving the sport they have devoted their lives to. Back in December the university announced that baseball, softball, men's and women's rowing, men's gymnastics, and men's indoor and outdoor track and field would all be cut, affecting some 150 student athletes, and nine full time coaches who'd lose their jobs.

Rower Moira Meekes says, "After the announcement was made people went up and asked questions regarding everything that had just occurred and a hand was put in their face, and we weren't allowed to discuss it. So it was nice to finally have the opportunity to speak, although I'm not sure what will come out of it."

Temple President Neil Theobald said this is not something he wanted to do, but they are simply so overextended.

"I certainly will consider everything that was said today. I did hear some new information that I hadn't heard before," Theobald admitted. "And we will come back to the board with our consideration of everything that was said today and see… we're open to all ideas."

When asked if there was a chance of a reversal, Sarah Barber from the Women's Rowing team said, "I think that there is a fighting chance, but it's going to be a fight. It's definitely going to be a fight."

One board member told Action News that the students were exceptional and very emotional in pleading their case.

Should nothing change, they wouldn't lose their scholarships, but they'd each lose a little part of their identities, that's for sure.

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