Towson sports body reverses field on football New vote pledges support for program

November 21, 1990|By Kent Baker

The Intercollegiate Athletic Committee at Towson State University, which voted last month to advise the University Senate to drop the school's football program, reversed itself yesterday and will recommend that the sport be continued.

The IAC's action came after it heard a presentation from alumni and parents of current players who are seeking to raise sufficient money to continue the football program.

"We pretty much resolved things," said student Laura Hulse, a member of the IAC. "We will take a new recommendation to the Senate."

The University Senate will convene Dec. 3 to virtually decide the fate of the football program, although school president Hoke Smith has the final say. Smith has said he probably would follow the recommendation of the senate.

The IAC voted last month, 8-1, to advise the Senate to suspend football at the school with the provision that the situation be reviewed annually, but two weeks later requested a delay of action on the matter to "consider new information." The vote margin at yesterday's meeting was not divulged.

That followed an emotional open forum, held by the IAC, at which parents and alumni began marshaling a task force to supplement athletic department funds for football.

Their efforts have impressed those who doubted the money could be raised in such a short time.

"They had a good plan, and we had a good meeting," athletic director Bill Hunter said yesterday. "They were well-received by the IAC, but that is about as much as I'm at liberty to say. I think everything was very positive."

The athletic department presented the task force with an $85,000 goal to attain by Dec. 1. But that has been revised downward, according to Jim Holdridge, leader of the alumni group.

"The figure has been updated, and we have pledges in excess of what we need," he said. "I can only tell you that we had to get enough for 'X' number of grants, which we did."

The 2 1/2 -hour closed-door meeting began on campus at 7 a.m. and was attended by representatives of the university administration and athletic department. Smith was not among them.

John Connolly, a professor in the English department and chairman of the IAC, did not return phone calls yesterday.

"We gave the IAC our business plan, and it went very well," said Holdridge. "We were ecstatic with their response. I'm confident that Dec. 3 all this will be put to bed."

The group probably has bought nothing more than time. Fund-raising must be perpetuating or the issue may arise again.

"We still have a long way to go," Holdridge said. "But we're starting to see some small gestures from corporations."

Another $110,000 is needed by Dec. 1, 1991, a figure also subject to adjustment.

National Collegiate Athletic Association restructuring plans are expected to require a member school to compete at the same division in all sports.

Smith is on record as wanting Towson to remain a Division I school, meaning the football team will have to be Division I-AA as it is if the legislation is passed in January.

The East Coast Conference is discussing a plan to form a football league that will be Division I without requiring the enormous expenditures needed to be competitive at that level.

"A lot of schools are interested in having football on a cost-containment basis," said Hunter, "even schools that are Division I in everything else and Division III in football now.

"There are eight or 10 that are looking for a place."

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