AD Gragg talks about golf decision, says they needed to make $500,000 dollar budget cut

Derrick Gragg: Obviously a very difficult thing today, I’ve been an athletic director for, this is my tenth year, and I’ve never had to go through a sport cut elimination. So dealing with the students athletes and, obviously we want to thank Coach Brogden—over thirty years of service to the institution—what he’s done for this program and university, and the student athletes in particular, there’s six of them that have been directly affected, are a main concern of mine. So we want to make sure they are given the opportunity to stay here if they wish to finish their education, and help facilitate their transfer to another institution. NCAA rules allow when a sport is eliminated that student athletes can transfer and be immediately eligible at another institution. As far as the reduction, for an athletic department, in particular in a situation where you aren’t completely funded by yourself and you rely on university subsidy, during budget reduction times the athletic department is not held harmless, it must reduce its budget along with the other units on campus, and that’s what we were asked to do.

Media Question: What other avenues were taken to try to save the program as opposed to just cutting it?

DG: Well, obviously you don’t make these types of decisions in a vacuum, so we looked at a lot of different things and there were a lot of different discussions, and on different levels, and so our full reduction is about half a million dollars.

MQ: Why now and why couldn’t that have been something that conference money you get from television rights been something that could have saved the program or money from donors or something of that nature?

DG: Well now, is because this is the time that the budget cycles runs so the decision was to be made at this time.

MQ: Is the budget cycle tied into the economy in general? When you say that you have reductions is this because of oil and gas or what’s causing the budget shortage?

DG: Well, I can’t be very specific about that, I just know that as far as our institution the amount we were asked to cut back was $500,000.

MQ: Could you be little specific about if it tied into the cost of attendance going forward?

DG: Oh no, it’s not tied into that.

MQ: Were other sports considered for this?

DG: When you have a situation like this you look at everything, so we looked at the entire department and had some discussions, and fortunately if there’s any positive out of this is that some other schools, in particular at least one in our conference had to make multiple sport cuts, I think up to seven, and so when you make a decision like this you want to minimize the damage, and from a personal standpoint you can’t minimize it when you look at who you’re affecting directly, but I’m just glad we didn’t have to have additional cuts.

MQ: Many members or former members of the golf team seem surprised by this move, were there other avenues taken to try and save the program from the private sector or something of that nature?

DG: I’ll answer for people asking how much it would cost to endow the program like, and if you add in future costs you’re looking at six to seven million dollars and so that wasn’t an avenue that we discussed at great length.

MQ: Can you give us a ballpark of how much money it will save you per year?

DG: It’s about a $520,000 program, about $280,000 in operating costs, $232,000 in scholarship costs.

MQ: What has been the immediate reaction from TU alumni about the move that’s just been made?

DG: Well that’s to be expected, there’s a lot of concern about it, from former TU athletes especially, and me being a former student athlete, if it was my program I would feel the same way. Obviously everybody’s concerned and wants answers and to know what went into a decision like this and I understand that fully.

MQ: You said that is the first time you’ve ever been through a cut like this, do you feel like maybe this could be for the conference going forward in the future, where you might see more cuts like this, or this is just a unique situation?

DG: I can’t speak for everybody, I just think when you’re dealing with difficult economic times you have to look at everything in particular again if you are in an athletic department that isn’t fully funded or doesn’t fund itself, then you have to be prepared for things like this, but again, this is the last thing that ever want to do. You never want to affect the student athletes directly with a sport elimination.

MQ: Were other sports asked to reduce their budgets and trim back?

DG: We’re trimming back in some other areas.

MQ: How do you think this reflects on the TU athletic department overall when you make a cut like this?

DG: Well again, I think looking at it overall we’ve had one of the best years we’ve ever had this year. We’ve never been to a bowl game and the NCAA Men’s Tournament in the same year and we’ve won several championships already. We’ve had a good two-year entrance into the American Athletic Conference as far as our competition. So I think we’re strong overall, but obviously this is a negative. But it’s not something that can’t be overcome.

MQ: Was this something that you decided, or was it something that the administration decided, Dr. Upham, how did this all culminate.

DG: Right, on several levels you have these discussions, between myself, the president, the president’s cabinet, and the executive committee of the board, who were all involved in the decision making process.

MQ: You mentioned the success of the revenue sports, how much did that success have an impact on some of the non-revenue ones and having to make this decision.

DG: There’s no direct correlation.

MQ: Do you know the last sport to be dropped here, if there was one.

DG: I’m not sure, but I hear about baseball a lot. So again I’ve been in athletics for 23 years and I haven’t had to deal with this in any of the five other institutions that I’ve worked at, but I’ve relied heavily on people who’ve gone through this.

MQ: Did coach Brogden make any last minute pleas to try and save it?

DG: I don’t want to talk about the discussions that Coach Brogden and I had.

MQ: What school announced that they were cutting seven?

DG: DT do you know which ones?

Don Tomkalski: Maryland, Temple, Robert Morris in the last five years, Temple was reduced by five.

MQ: As an athletic administrator, does this scare you to a certain degree about the direction that you’ve had to take here?

DG: Well, you just have to be prepared for any and all circumstances. I wouldn’t say that I’m scared, I don’t anticipate an future sport cuts.

MQ: Do you anticipate this being reevaluated if someone stepped up and would like to fund this program, or if the economic circumstances change?

DG: Absolutely, I would love to reevaluate the situation at the appropriate time.

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