"It's completely unexpected for us," said Austin, who led the Tigers in appearances in 2011. "We made the playoffs last year and set a record for fielding percentage. We were successful. It's unbelievable that this could happen. It's ridiculous. Baseball is America's pastime."
Towson's plan would reduce the number of teams to 19 overall. The addition of men’s tennis, which was cut after the 2003-04 academic year, would give Towson the minimum number of men’s teams (seven) needed to compete on the NCAA Division I level.
It would also give the athletic department the same sort of gender participation – a little over 60 percent women to a little under 40 men – that reflects the school’s academic enrollment in accordance with Title IX legislation.
Anthony Adams, the associate head soccer coach at UMBC, compared the news to the University of Baltimore's decision to discontinue soccer in the mid-1980s. That program won the NCAA Division II national championship in 1975.
"It's terrible news," Adams said. "There is a whole group of alumni for years and years that are going to be affected by it. There are also local rivalries with UMBC and Loyola that are going to suffer. We're devastated by it. A lot of people will use Title IX as the scapegoat. But Title IX is geared toward providing more opportunities for women's sports, not taking it away from men's programs."
Pete Caringi, the coach at UMBC, was part of that University of Baltimore championship team and a two-time All-American at the school. He said there are still hard-feelings among UB alumni over the decision to disband the program.
"The alumni, to this day, are still bitter about it," said Caringi, UB's all-time leading scorer with 70 goals. "The history of a great program went down the drain. And now with Towson, this is a shock. Towson has great tradition. It's a shame."
The two programs being cut have had a long history of sustained success under the same head coaches.
Now in his 24th year as the baseball coach, Towson alumnus Mike Gottlieb has averaged more than 25 victories a season and has had 12 players drafted by major league teams, including Casper Wells, now with the Seattle Mariners. In his 30th season, Frank Olszewski ranks 15th among active Division I soccer coaches in wins (276) and has had winning records in 14 of his past 16 seasons.
The announcement at Towson follows a proposal for drastic cuts made last year at Maryland, where initially eight teams were to be cut. Only one of the teams – men’s outdoor track – was saved for at least another year when money was raised privately to support it.
According to the proposal sent to the president at Towson, athletes currently on teams being cut would not lose their scholarships and could remain in school as long as they were in good academic standing.