ST. CLOUD -- A rally was held Wednesday at St. Cloud State University by student athletes who oppose the administration's decision to cut six sports from its athletic program.

Earlier this month, the university announced it would cut men’s and women’s tennis, women’s nordic skiing, men’s cross country, and men’s indoor/outdoor track and field in hopes to close a $9 million budget hole in 2017.

About 100 student athletes from various programs came out to Halenbeck Hall to voice their opposition.

Speakers Gabe Fogarty (L) and Isaiah Pitchford (R). (Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON)

"We couldn't figure out why this was happening, even the numbers behind it didn't make much sense," says Isaiah Pitchford, a sophomore track and football player. "Especially because none of this makes sense, we need answers."

It’s estimated the elimination of the six programs will save the athletic department around $250,000 -- about five percent of the budget hole.

"We're bringing everybody together -- not necessarily to rile people up, but get them excited and tell them we need to try to fight this," Pitchford says. "If it doesn't work, we're in the same situation we started in."

Gabe Fogarty, an All American wrestler for the two-time defending National Champion wrestling team, read a letter he sent to SCSU President Earl Potter and Athletic Director Heather Weems.

In the letter, Fogarty says he's against the elimination of the programs and the roster realignment the cuts will force. Due to Title IX requirements, the number of total male student athletes must equal the total number of female student athletes -- meaning football, baseball, and wrestling must cut a certain amount of their players.

"I'm worried not only for the loss of 15-18 beloved student athletes, but also the loss of 15-18 friends, brothers and family members," Fogarty said in the letter. "Title IX was originally created for equity and to end discrimination, but I fear that it's [now] being used to discriminate against male student athletes."

The student athletes who came out to the rally each signed a petition against the roster management policy, which they plan on presenting to the administration.

"We tried to tell kids on all sports teams about it to show up in support," says Alexie Portz, a sophomore player for the women's tennis team who helped organize the rally.

"We want to open the eyes of the administration that we want change, we want to make something happen with this."


Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON