The women's volleyball team at St. Francis Xavier has been canceled, effective immediately.
According to Athletic Director Leo MacPherson, the fiscal responsibility of supporting 13 varsity programs was no longer possible. Women's volleyball was chosen due to it's minimal impact on student athletes, only 10 athletes will be impacted, as well the program is not one of national prominence. St. FX has never won an AUS Women's Volleyball Title.
The University will honour all current athletic scholarships, and will assist any athlete seeking to transfer schools.
This situation is all too familiar to volleyball fans. In 2011, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo cut both their Men's and Women's programs, without any warning, leaving all athletes and coaches without arrangement for the next season.
This case seems to be slightly more civil than in Laurier's case.
"We've been hearing rumours about it for a few weeks," said second-year player Kelsey Wolfenden. "This morning their was a conference call with the Athletic Director to make it official, as well as an e-mail that was sent out to the players who weren't able to attend the meeting."
One can't help but notice that the least successful of St. FX's varsity teams is the men's football team, with a record of only 2-8, finishing dead last in the AUS.
The women's volleyball team on the other hand held a record of 6-7, upsetting UNB before losing in the AUS semi-finals.
Obviously, the football team at St. FX does hold a strong tradition, with championship teams that run into the '40's. But if we're talking financial responsibility for a varsity team, which costs more? (Hint: it's football)
The only other team at St. FX without a gender equivalent, is women's Rugby, a powerhouse team that defeated defending champion Guelph 37-0 in the CIS Final.
We're once again witnessing the North American tendency to value certain sports over others. For most people living on our continent, if it's not football, basketball, baseball, or hockey (well, that one's more for Canadians, but regardless), they don't care.
Unfortunately, in most cases, volleyball is the first program to go. We also saw it in 2010, when McGill dropped their men's team, as well as many other cases across Canada and the United-States.
We've tried complaining, we've tried writing to athletic directors, but the culture won't change until we change it. Want to keep your favourite CIS volleyball teams around? There's an easy solution: support them.
If the fans support CIS, CCAA, and NCAA volleyball teams, eventually (well, hopefully), AD's and other sport people will see the benefit, and support volleyball.
It's no longer the time to whine and complain about the decisions that Universities make, we now have to stand up for our teams, our athletes, but most importantly, we have to stand up for our sport.