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Thousands sign petition after LMU cuts 6 sports programs

LMU student-athletes speak out against recent cutbacks
LMU student-athletes speak out against recent cutbacks 02:14

Thousands of former and current Loyola Marymount University athletes have signed an online petition to reinstate several sports programs that will be cut by the end of their respective seasons.

In an open letter accompanying the announcement, Athletic Director Craig Pintens claimed the cuts were part of the administration's plan to adapt to the rapidly changing college sports landscape — especially focusing on the impacts of the name, image and likeness (NIL) and transfer portal rules.

Spirit squad flies an LMU flag at a sporting event. Getty Images

"This decision, while difficult, best positions our department and remaining Division I sports for success," Pintens wrote. "The NCAA landscape is changing rapidly, and schools of all sizes must adapt to provide the best student-athlete experience while becoming even more competitive. LMU is no different."

In total, six programs will be eliminated: 

  • Men's cross-country
  • Men's rowing
  • Men's track and field 
  • Women's rowing 
  • Women's swimming 
  • Women's track and field

About 100 student-athletes will be affected by the changes. 

Athletes claimed they received a three-hour notice to attend a meeting where they would eventually learn the fate of their programs. Many broke into tears when they learned they would no longer compete for the university.

"We were all in a state of hysteria," sophomore Lia Murray said. "Nobody knew what to do with themselves, and it didn't really seem that anybody cared to help."

Murray added she saw many crying and falling onto the ground after the meeting. Sophomore Alena Sharp described the aftermath as "the most soul-crushing" event that has happened to her this year. 

"I am devasted at the news," she said. "Being in that room with those students who decided to go to the meeting that we were called to, seeing everyone's face just drop immediately was the most soul-crushing thing I could have seen this week or this year."

Sharp added that she transferred to LMU this year and would not have made the switch if she "wasn't in love with the school."

"All I could feel was hurt like I had been backstabbed," Sharp said. "I came to this program to swim. I was promised that they would uphold my future, my plans the way I wanted to."

Former and current student-athletes decried the moves, with over 2,000 of them signing the petition Sharp created calling for the university to reinstate the six programs.

LMU said they will honor the athletic financial aid of all those affected if they stay at the university to finish their studies. The administration also said they will help people transfer if they wish to continue their collegiate athletic careers.

However, the administration's move soured the LMU experience for some athletes.

"We were looking at options of graduating early," junior Ryann Dorris said. "We can't imagine our time at LMU without swimming. So, in terms of athletics, sadly, our career is cut a little bit short."

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