WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — “I’m announcing today that we will continue all 19 of our sports programs,” Chancellor Gary Miller announced to a crowded room at UNCW’s Burney Center this morning.
And with those words it was a huge sigh of relief for the sports teams at UNCW that were on the chopping block, but are not any more.
“I’m just happy to be back on the field with my team again next year,” softball player Tori Sewell said. “I was so nervous. I thought my heart was gonna pop right out of my chest.”
“We’ve been on pins and needles for the last few weeks,” swimming coach Dave Allen said. “It’s been a stressful time for everybody; not just me. It’s been stressful for all of our athletes and all of our alumni.”
With Thursday’s announcement, 19 teams on campus remain intact.
“No (athletic director) in America wants to limit opportunities for student athletes,” UNCW AD Jimmy Bass said. “The university community is in total agreement in moving forward. We’ve got the folks that we heard from who showed their support now need to show their financial commitment.”
“I think it’s a good wake up call for all of the teams, especially for us to keep us working hard and just know that we’re thankful to be here and to be able to remain,” said Marlee Caldwell, a member of the track & field team.
Attorney Jonathan Washburn is the parent of a Seahawk swimmer. He understands the athletic department at UNC Wilmington needs to re-gain fiscal strength.
“This is an opportunity for them to review the athletic budget, and through this process some people may not know that the swim team has offered to do what it can to help reduce expenses,” Washburn said. “We have offered to raise some funds. There are a number of things that we believe we can do to help the entire athletic department.”
Had Miller approved the recommendation to cut five teams, it would have been the loss of 117 student-athletes from the university.