November 1, 2012

Spelman to drop athletics

Spelman, a women's college in Atlanta, is dropping intercollegiate athletics as a whole at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

Spelman does not reflect the decision on its website, rather, linking to an Inside Higher Ed report from its Facebook page. In the report, president Beverly Daniel Tatum is quoted as saying: “We say we are preparing them for their future lives, but when we think about our involvement in intercollegiate athletics or our activities in our physical education classes, those are not necessarily the things they’re going to do after graduation. We want them to live long and healthy lives so they can get the return on that investment they’ve made in higher education.”

The school is replacing athletics with what it terms a campus-wide wellness initiative.

The Jaguars struggled in 2011-12, going 3-9 in tennis, 9-16 in volleyball, 6-9-1 in soccer, 1-28 in softball and 8-16 in basketball. Many of the wins are against non-Division III schools.

The decision was met with neutral to negative reaction in social media. "I encourage everyone to participate in being fit and healthy but sports are very important for developing women in other ways as well. I helped to create a small cross country/track team there and it was an amazing part of my experience at Spelman," said Georgette Countee.

"I wholeheartedly agree that the Physical Education curriculum needs to be restructured;" Jackie Dillon said. "I also agree that Read Hall could use a facelift, however I just cannot buy into that the only way to make these things happen is at the expense of the complete annihilation of the athletics program and the disregard of the hard work and energy that has been put forth over the years to make Spelman Athletics what it has become today."

"I loved having the option of participating in sports," Raquel Obumba posted. "Although I joined the cross country team my senior year, it was still in integral part of my college experience."

Spelman is a member of the Great South Athletic Conference, a group trying to hang onto its automatic bids as a women's-only conference after the departure of its four co-ed schools to the USA South. It is the second Division III school to drop athletics entirely in recent years, joining New York City Tech.

What We're Reading