The soon-to-be Division I University of St. Thomas athletic department will no longer field tennis programs.
After meeting with the men’s and women’s teams in private, the university in Minneapolis, Minn., announced the move Tuesday by posting a letter signed by university president Julie H. Sullivan, director of athletics Phil Esten and board of trustees chairman Patrick G. Ryan.
“After extensive evaluation, we have made the decision to discontinue our men’s and women’s varsity tennis programs as the end of the academic year,” reads the letter, which comes in the leadup to St. Thomas completing its transition from Division III to Division I. “This hard decision was made in consultation with St. Thomas' Board of Trustees following the evaluation of our entire athletic department's resources, including: facilities, staff and personnel, ongoing athletic scholarship support, competitiveness, peer institution portfolios and our long-term financial model.
“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.”
The letter noted the private university has no dedicated tennis facilities. It also mentioned that decreasing the department to 20 athletic programs will bring the Tommies closer to the rest of the Summit League, which St. Thomas is joining this summer about two years after the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference “involuntarily removed” the university for the sake of “athletic competitive parity.”
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According to the Star Tribune, there were 12 women and 15 men in the St. Thomas tennis programs this year. Both are coached by Ken Cychosz, while the women won the MIAC regular-season title.
The letter said the university will continue to support everyone affiliated with the tennis programs, and will honor employment agreements with coaches. Tennis will become a club sport at St. Thomas.
“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,” the letter reads. “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.”