Learning your alma mater decided to eliminate it’s NCAA Division I Mens Golf Team from a Golf Channel phone app was unsettling. As a former member of the team, I was shocked and disappointed by the Board of Trustee’s decision. Immediately I contacted people who have ties with the university to see what they knew. They were as surprised as me. It has been a few days since the fateful directive became public and many people are asking “why?”. Unless you were privy to that board room discussion, the reasons may never be know.
What I have learned in the last few days is that Furman is facing some debt issues. As a private university in this day and age that comes as no surprise especially with recent building additions that have been added to the campus. Make no mistake — Furman is a beautiful university offering wonderful opportunities. Which leads to the main question — why would they cut mens golf? The savings from such a decision are minimal. The women’s program is being kept intact. It makes you wonder what cuts are coming down the road to other university programs? Surely there will be some if financial issues need to be addressed.
I know such a decision would be the furthest thing from the mind of Past President, Dr. John Johns. He played and loved the game while respecting those who were its participants. Some might say times change — you can’t live in the past. To those I say — golf is timeless. It’s lessons endure. These days learning to take responsibility for administering rules, accepting ever-changing playing conditions and playing the ball as it lies are common societal behaviors needing reinforcement. Golf offers a tremendous educational experience to restore these axioms. It’s lessons are applicable to every day life. What a tremendous message for young adults. That opportunity is now being taken away by people entrusted to further the educational ideals of the university. In my opinion, it is the wrong road to pursue.
If the financial future is suspect, why treat the hemorrhage with a Band-Aid? Why add a lacrosse team with a budget that surpasses that of the mens golf program? Why discourage potential donors with golfing sons to attend the university? Why indeed? The odd decision perhaps has an overtone of vindication wrapped around it. Too many questions with no viable answers.
Some believe this decision will be overturned. Doubtful. Yet there is a possibility down the road mens golf could return. In order to do so, those who have ties to Furman need to be in positions of influence. Furman will run best with former Paladins at the controls. We need administrators from the alumni base. We need people who protect the valued programs of Furman University rather than eradicate them.
It’s time to face facts and employ workable solutions to solve larger problems. If financial concerns are an obstacle going forward, Furman needs to address these issues prudently rather than disband a golf team as beancounters make petty judgements
It’s time to find leaders. It’s time to promote opportunities rather than eliminate them. It’s time to accept blame rather than deflect it. It’s time to put the university back on the right track. It’s time to move into the future with confidence, accountability and transparency. Furman Trustees, it is time to play the ball as it lies and have the fortitude to hit the shot instead of walking off the course.