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Eight teams enough for Cobra athletics

Sports Writer

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 22:02

image Eight teams enough Cobras Gerardo Jimenez

Photo by Gerardo Jimenez/Prospectus News

Tennis is one of several programs that were cut due to budget concerns over the past few years.

The Cobras currently compete in both men’s and women’s basketball and soccer. Also on the men’s side is baseball and golf while the women compete in softball and volleyball.

Sports that were previously removed from the athletic department were men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s cross country and track.

Parkland Athletic Director Rod Lovett offered insight on why such changes were made.

“There are some inherent issues with men’s and women’s tennis, cross country and track,” Lovett said. “That was partly a money decision because it was getting harder and harder to run an athletic program with that many sports.”

Parkland College offered 14 sports programs at the time the decision was made.

Parkland College President Tom Ramage was not here in the year 2000 when the changes occurred. He knows that money is a driving force behind many of these decisions.

“At that time, there were cyclical budget compressions that happened so the leadership at the time was forced to make a decision to cut a few sports,” Ramage explained. “The philosophy was that we would concentrate on doing the sports we had as best we could.”

Despite all of the positives that may have come from the decision being made to cut those programs, it was not an easy for Lovett to make to cut men’s and women’s cross country, track and tennis.

The track program had enjoyed success with recent hall of fame inductee Lee LaBadie as head coach. His teams made six nationals appearances and he coached 120 All-Americans.

The cross country program had the 1999 individual national champion, recent Hall of Fame inductee, Jodi Clark, and many All-Americans as well.

“It’s never easy because you’re cutting people, and success,” Lovett recalled about his first decision as the newest Parkland Athletic Director. “Absolutely it was a tricky thing, but probably based on our local area we have the right sports.”

Lovett was told by administration that the decision had to be made because funds were being cut and he had too many sports in the department. To his credit, he made the tough choice and the athletic department has maintained its solid nature.

Once those three sports were cut, Lovett quickly made the decision to add men’s and women’s soccer. The soccer programs have been very successful during their short life span at Parkland.

“I think pretty clearly that soccer is a growing sport,” Lovett said. “With our growing diverse population with a lot of Hispanic students, soccer is a sport that’s very native to them so it made sense.”

“We made the investment in a fewer number of teams as opposed to a wider number that we couldn’t support as well,” Ramage pointed out. “Our premier sports like baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and so forth that are our concentrations, you can probably tell by the track record, mission accomplished.”

Lovett has seen a noticeable improvement in his athletic department since the tough decision to cut those sports was made.

The bright side of that disappointment of losing six great programs was that the individual teams’ budgets remained similar despite the college’s cutbacks.

“I don’t think it’s any mistake that a lot of the success in the Parkland athletic department has come in the last 10 to 12 years because we were better funded,” Lovett explained. announcer Brian Schutte has been around the Parkland Athletic Program the last three years as broadcaster. He believes it’s strong the way it is now.

“I feel like there are only so many resources to go around and I think for all the programs that we have, we have a lot of success,” Schutte mentioned. “I think where the athletic department is as a whole, I really respect what they do over there and how they run their program.”

Even with that being said, Schutte is certainly not against the idea of having more sports to call and making the athletic department deeper.

“We’ve already got a fairly packed athletic schedule,” he said. “There could be a few more sports added. If there was another team added my guess would be cross country or track or something like that.”

Adding sports is not out of the realm of possibilities, but it would be a very difficult feat to accomplish.

The most talked about thing among Parkland fans and students around campus, is the possibility of adding sports. There are a few in particular that are in high demand among students.

“The two sports I probably get the most phone calls about are football and wrestling,” Lovett pointed out.

It’s not as simple as just finding the players and adding the team to the mix, though.

“Football is extraordinarily expensive from an equipment standpoint, size of the team and infrastructure that goes into it,” President Ramage explained. “The question before we add another team would be, are we supporting the current teams as well as we could?”

There is also a process required for another sports team to be added.

“I, as the athletic director, would be the one that would make a recommendation to President Ramage,” Lovett explained. “President Ramage and his advisory team would look it over and say whether they thought it was warranted or not.”

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