The Missouri State University Board of Governors has approved the recommendations of a university work group to restructure its intercollegiate athletic program offerings and reduce departmental spending by more than $1 million.
The Board approved the plan presented by the Athletics Budget Work Group in closed session which began on March 24 and was continued to Friday March 31 when action was taken.
At the conclusion of the current fiscal year, Missouri State will discontinue its intercollegiate field hockey program, add the sport of women's beach volleyball and institute departmental spending reductions to meet the university's new budgetary expectations for Athletics. All changes will be effective July 1.
In February, Missouri State University President Clif Smart created the work group after state funding withholdings and budget reductions were announced. Smart charged the study group with determining ways to reduce Athletics spending by at least $750,000.
"This was an incredibly-difficult undertaking," said Director of Athletics Kyle Moats. "The work group looked at nearly every possible scenario to reduce expenses without cutting programs. As budgets are being cut across campus, Athletics must do its part. Ultimately this decision was made instead of sacrificing the competitiveness of all other sports."
"I have a great deal of empathy for the field hockey staff, student-athletes and alumni who are affected by this decision. The program has always represented the university in a positive fashion, and we will do our best to preserve its legacy and the legacy of those who helped build the program."
Smart said the changes are part of the university's overall financial recovery plan and have his support.
"My task to the work group was to make permanent reductions in operating costs. To get to the numbers, we had to make permanent changes. Those kind of changes are difficult, painful and emotional. I commend Dr. Jim Hutter and the entire group for working tirelessly at an exceptionally difficult task."
Missouri State will continue to honor scholarships for all student-athletes currently participating in field hockey. Under NCAA transfer rules, a student-athlete is able to transfer to another institution and be eligible to practice and compete immediately if her institution has discontinued the program.
Committed recruits who wish to receive a full release from their National Letter of Intent will be allowed to pursue a playing career at another institution. Those field hockey student-athletes who have committed to attend Missouri State next year through the National Letter of Intent process, will have their scholarship agreements honored for one year, starting with the fall 2017 semester. After that year, those individuals would be entitled to transfer or continue attending the university without athletic aid.
By replacing field hockey with beach volleyball, a spring sport, Athletics will realize an annual savings of $300,600 with no anticipated impact on the number of participating female student-athletes.
The work group also recommended the following cost-saving measures related to Athletics:
The total annual cost savings from these changes is expected to be $1,061,400.
Criteria used by the work group to evaluate sport offerings included:
The six-member study group was chaired by Dr. James Hutter, faculty athletics representative and associate professor. The committee also included Moats; Rachael Dockery, general counsel (ex-officio); Steve Foucart, chief financial officer; Casey Hunt, senior associate director of athletics/SWA; Jill Patterson, Title IX coordinator; and Dr. Michele Smith, assistant vice president of student affairs.
Missouri State's field hockey program began competing in 1966 and won the 1979 AIAW Division II national championship. The team is currently coached by Catherine Ostoich who was 3-13 in her first season at MSU in 2016. She will remain employed at Missouri State until her contract expires on June 30.