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The decision to drop women's water polo and add women's track and field at Cal State San Bernardino, announced March 21, seems to be a done deal. But parents and friends of the program have not given up the battle.
They have created an online petition through MoveOn.org, intended for Cal State president Tomas Morales and Athletic Director Kevin Hatcher. It was first posted Tuesday afternoon, and as of about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday - about 24 hours after it was launched - it had more than 770 signatures and was still growing.
Obviously, the worldwide water polo community has been engaged - and enraged - by the decision to drop the program. The signatories come from 33 states (including all over California) and the District of Columbia, as well as Italy, Vietnam, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Guam and Ireland.
Among the comments included with those signatures:
"The school should give options on how to keep the program instead of saying they are cutting it. I would love to attend a town hall on how to keep the program. Count me in! Save this program."
"There are literally thousands of young women in the greater San Bernardino area involved in aquatics programs. Please don't take away this opportunity for them to continue to play a sport they love while staying in the local area. Don't force them to have to go out of the area for an opportunity to play!"
"I was a freshman on the (Massachusetts) Women's Water Polo team when our program was cut. It was devastating, and I'm (hoping) that this does not happen to the women of Cal State San Bernardino."
"I am a CSUSB Alumni and I have been coaching Water Polo in the area since 1996. I know several athletes that have gone through the CSUSB women's polo program. I think that it is a shame if this action is followed through. My wife was a part of the CSUSB water polo program. She is very proud of her athletic and academic accomplishment while attending CSUSB. I think someone at that school should have more foresight and rethink the decision making processes that are happening in the athletic department."
"There's nothing more demeaning than stripping the identity of someone. Don't let this happen - keep the program, and gain generations of leaders."
"Water polo is one of the few women's sports that doesn't dumb down the play from the men's game. We need more of the strong women that water polo creates. I'm sure there is another sport that does not need the funding that a handful of athletes need so desperately. Don't take this away from these women please!"
"That any school in Southern California would consider dropping an aquatics program, especially one as small and low cost as water polo, is difficult to understand. ADs are trying to do to women what they did to men years ago; dictate the athletic options. Track and Field is far more costly. The AD needs to answer for this."
Will this reaction have an effect? Stay tuned.