By LAUREN TAYLOR
The start of the 2015-2016 school year saw exciting news for four of the University of Mary Washington’s sports teams. The men’s and women’s rugby and men and women’s crew teams have been upgraded from being a club organization to being a team sport under the umbrella of athletics, but not a varsity team.
According to Athletic Director Ken Tyler, he and President Rick Hurley communicated about reorganizing these teams to give the athletes more opportunities and an extra layer of oversight.
The reorganization procedure involved meeting with the president, better staff, analysis and the proper timing. There are about 100 athletes on the teams, so this will bring many changes for many people. Crew and rugby will be under the Department of Athletics rather than campus recreation.
Head coaches are now contracted employees through the university. The new opportunities for the athletes include head coaches, access to athletic facilities, strength and conditioning trainers, access to the varsity weight room, the ability to practice on varsity turf and an efficient budget.
With such positive change and liberties, come high expectations. The men and women rugby and crew teams are expected to represent the department in a “first-class manner,” according to Tyler.
There lies a potential for the University to begin recruiting for these squads, which enhances the exposure, which they will be able to tap into for positive publicity. Integration will be very important for the teams as well, as they are now expected to work with both clubs and athletic teams for improvement.
The athletes must remain “good ambassadors” for the university, because they are representing both the academic affairs of the school and the athletic program, which is an extremely important aspect of public relations and future applicants to the school.
Some have raised concerns about the recent affairs of the men’s rugby team, and what has been happening as a result of their reinstatement. Now that they are off of suspension, the men will remain on probation and have attended a sensibility program, which was a condition of their reinstatement. Now that all of these conditions have been met, the team is looking forward to beginning their season under the direction of the athletics department.
Although the news of the reorganization originally confused many of the athletes and fans alike, the purpose of reorganization is to give further opportunities to excel to the men and women who play rugby and row for crew. Tyler stated that he is “excited for the new changes, and would like to welcome the teams into the athletic family.”