Students rally to bring back track

At least 50 Seton Hall students and alumni rallied Monday afternoon against the administration’s decision to eliminate all of Seton Hall’s track teams on July 1.

The crowd of track students, supporters and alumni made their way around the Green chanting “Bring Back Track” and stopped outside the Richie Regan Recreation and Athletic Center to make speeches expressing their anger and disappointment at the decision.

“Track isn’t just a sport, it’s our life,” junior Ke’Aira Dickerson, a member of the track team for three years, said.

Junior Dwight Parker, also a three-year member of the track team, said he was devastated by the university’s decision.

“This was my first year eligible to play because of injuries,” Parker said. “It really feels like I’ve been stabbed in the heart.”

Parker said it is not just about the loss of the sport but about the loss of the teammates.

“I could spend all day with these people and not get tired of them,” Parker said of his fellow track team members, “We’re more than friends, we’re a family.”

Senior Jernail Hayes, a four-year member of the track team, said she turned down other schools to don Seton Hall’s blue and white on a track team soon to be extinct.

“Track is like an extension of my life,” Hayes said.

Senior member of the track team Carl Smith said he will always support his team.

“I could be as old as Coach Moon and I want to keep coming back to support my team,” Smith said.

Some students at the rally held signs, one of which said “Who’s next Seton Hall?!?” while others, such as senior and Student Government President Leonard Jones, wore black armbands to protest the decision.

Senior Kevaan Walton is not on the track team but spoke at the rally in support of the team’s goals.

“It’s very disheartening to come to a university that prides itself on building student leaders and building a place that is a home for the body, mind and spirit, but yet so quickly, and without consulting any members of the track team, you can cut it so quickly,” Walton said.

Walton said that he felt the lack of a sense of community at Seton Hall has allowed major decisions affecting the students to go relatively unchallenged and the passive attitude of many students had to stop.

“I’m standing here today to let all of you know that it’s your obligation, it is your duty as Seton Hall students, as members of the track team, as a family, as a Seton Hall community to go out and reach out to other individuals to inform them as to what is going on and why you feel it is a problem, and we need to stand together and multiply.”

Sophomores Erica Francis and Ekua Quansha, who are not on the track team, said after the rally they had come out to support track students.
“Who’s to say I’m not next?” Francis said. “If Seton Hall cut the track team, than they could cut the softball team, the baseball team, clubs, programs, anything.”

Many of the rally’s speeches used the Obama campaign slogan, “Yes we can and yes we will,” as a rallying cry, while some pointed out the track team is made up primarily of minority students.

Walter said he applauded the minority students who came to the rally for showing their support.

“I know the university is going through a hard time, but to get rid of a primarily minority team…I was really saddened by the news,” Jones said.

Additionally, one of the organizers of the rally, senior Sergio Suarez, who is not a member of the track team, said that students need to take back the power, ask questions and find out the real issues.

He pointed out that the money saved by cutting the track team would be given right back to Athletics, so the reasons for cutting the team were unclear to him.

Matt Sweeney, assistant athletics director for communications, confirmed the money would be re-allocated to other athletic programs but said no decision the university made was ever racially based.

“There is absolutely no motive to making this decision other than financials,” Sweeney said. “This is a last effort in order to sustain the competitiveness of our other sports programs.”

Sweeney said no official decision had been made as to exactly how much money each sport would get, but that it would be used to help the other athletic programs.

He also stated while administration would not release the total athletic budget, they have released the amount athletics would save by cutting the track team, and the amount is very significant.

The Setonian reported in its Feb. 25 issue that the university will save $1.5 million a year by eliminating the track teams.

“To what extent are they willing to make cuts, to what extent are they willing to make decisions which negatively alter the school,” Suarez said. “That’s what the presidential task is to make the tough decisions across the board, not to target one specific team or group of people.”

“You can’t put a price on the legacy,” Israel Santil, a student organizer of the rally, said. “Especially with the history the track team has, it adds to the greatness of Seton Hall, I mean, for a dollar?”

In addition to the rally, a Seton Hall alumnus and former member of the track team, Terrance Gallogly, created a Facebook group, “Save Seton Hall Track and Field,” which, as of Wednesday afternoon, had more than 4,000 members, including Seton Hall students, alumni and students from other universities.

Students have also taped signs that say, “Save Track and Field,” on students’ doors in residence halls across campus.

Sweeney said that he knows the members of the track team are upset. “We understand that the athletes are having a hard time with this – as they should be—but there’s little we can do about this now.”

Suarez said he wants students to know that this is only the beginning.

“The track team will come back,” he said.

Alumnus Corie Reilly said that she heard the news not long after it was announced, and was immediately concerned for her old athletes.

“I was shocked and then worried about Coach Marshall and what he is going to do as well as the students that are still at SHU and aren’t graduating this year and are banking on those scholarships.” Reilly said. “They said it will effect 24 students and five coaches or something like that. There are 24 scholarship students but they are at least 50 people on the team. It effects more than that.”

Matt Sweeney, assistant athletics director for communications, confirmed the money would be re-allocated to other athletic programs but said no decision the university made was ever racially based.

“There is absolutely no motive to making this decision other than financials,” Sweeney said. “This is a last effort in order to sustain the competitiveness of our other sports programs.”

Sweeney said no official decision had been made as to exactly how much money each sport would get, but that it would be used to help the other athletic programs.

He also stated while administration would not release the total athletic budget, they have released the amount athletics would save by cutting the track team, and the amount is very significant.

The Setonian reported in its Feb. 25 issue that the university will save $1.5 million a year by eliminating the track teams.

“To what extent are they willing to make cuts, to what extent are they willing to make decisions which negatively alter the school,” Suarez said. “That’s what the presidential task is to make the tough decisions across the board, not to target one specific team or group of people.”

“You can’t put a price on the legacy,” Israel Santil, a student organizer of the rally, said. “Especially with the history the track team has, it adds to the greatness of Seton Hall, I mean, for a dollar?”

In addition to the rally, a Seton Hall alumnus and former member of the track team, Terrance Gallogly, created a Facebook group, “Save Seton Hall Track and Field,” which, as of Wednesday afternoon, had more than 4,000 members, including Seton Hall students, alumni and students from other universities.

Gallogy sent a message to those members asking them to send a pre-written letter to “the people in charge of the decision.”

The letter commends the success the team has brought in the past and how it has helped with the “crucial transition from young adults to members of society.”

The letter also states how terminating a team is against the Catholic mission of catering to the mind, the heart, and the spirit.

Students petition the administration by ending the letter saying “I believe as a community, all members of the athletic department should bear the burden of the financial crisis equally, so as not punish the Track and Field program for the benefit of all other sports. I will consider it a catastrophe if this decision is allowed to move forward.”

Joespeh Quinlan and Msgr. Sheeran were among the 11 administrators and groups the letter was planned to be sent to.

Students have also taped signs that say, “Save Track and Field,” on students’ doors in residence halls across campus.

Sweeney said that he knows the members of the track team are upset. “We understand that the athletes are having a hard time with this – as they should be—but there’s little we can do about this now.”

Suarez said he wants students to know that this is only the beginning.
“The track team will come back,” he said.

Caitlin Carroll can be reached at caitlin.carroll@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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