The Advance-Titan

Men’s soccer asked to leave Titan athletics photo shoot

Soccer Team1Riley Steinbrenner | The Advance-Titan

 

“The men’s soccer team was asked to leave the school-wide athletic group photo session after refusing to change their “SaveUWOSoccer” shirts last week Monday.

The team was demonstrating their determination to save the soccer program, which will not return next school year, and to get questions answered as to why the cuts are happening.

Senior soccer player Matthew Cheaney said that the team did what was needed to be done.

“I would say we felt good about standing up for what we believe in,” Cheaney said. “We feel there’s an injustice, and we need to take action and do something about it.”

According to Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, all of the teams had to wear the clothing that represented UW Oshkosh athletics. The men’s soccer team refused to do so.

“The team decided to remove their issued t-shirt for the photograph,” Leavitt said. “All athletes wear the same shirt in this photo to symbolize the unity within athletics.”

Cheaney said that the soccer team was willing to be part of the photo if Athletic Director Darryl Sims would answer their questions regarding why the program was being cut.

“We asked [Sims] to give us an answer to a question, and if he did, we would put the shirts on,” Cheaney said. “He failed to give us an answer. The shirts were staying off.”

Men’s soccer coach Wytse Molenaar said he admires what his players did.

“I told them the next day that I was proud of them,” he said. “They stood up for what they believe in.”

The reasoning behind why the men’s soccer and tennis teams are being cut has been the source of much confusion on campus in recent months.

Leavitt said the athletic cuts are due to the recent budget cuts.

“I know it is a tough time for the student-athletes who play men’s soccer,” Leavitt said. “Given the need to reduce funding in every area of the University, tough decisions were made to meet these reductions.”

However, Molenaar said that his players have not been given clear answers as to why the program is being cut.

“[The players] have given everything and beyond, not just these guys, but the program as a whole for 30 plus years, and to this day they are still shocked and confused by the decision.” Molenaar said. “They still haven’t been given straight answers. [The reasoning has] gone from budget to affirmative action, to the Title IX, to the conference, and to the automatic qualifier.”

Molenaar said he supports his player’s actions at the Meet and Greet but knows they are being treated unfairly.

“They should stand up, because they are being mistreated here,” Molenaar said. “This is at no fault to them, and they are given different reasons and none of the reasons stick.”

Regardless of the reason behind the program cuts, the team will not be seen in the photo next year.
Sims said the players’ absence in the photo is unfavorable.

“They did what they felt they needed to do,” Sims said. “It’s unfortunate they were not in the picture.”

According to Cheaney, the team’s absence in the photo and programs unfortunate future has left the team feeling isolated from the athletic body.

“The purpose for the athlete meet and greet was to bond with fellow athletes and create a family-like atmosphere,” Cheaney said. “We strongly feel as if we are not a part of this family anymore.”

Former UW Oshkosh soccer player Danny Kobin said he believes the soccer team’s opinions should have been heard during the decision to cut the team.

“They deserve to have a say in this decision,” Kobin said. “One individual should not have the authority to make a big decisions that impacts so many such as this one.”

Ultimately, the odds of the men’s soccer and tennis programs returning next year are nonexistent according to Sims.
“I have always been very clear that this decision, while unfortunate, is final,” Sims said.”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Men’s soccer asked to leave Titan athletics photo shoot