Track coach finds pink slip

Craig Skibo

UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s track and field and cross country will see changes in coaching staffs for the 2016 season. Ben Dorsey, the current women’s track and field head coach, will become both the men’s and women’s track and field head coach starting in 2016. Eamon McKenna, the current men’s track and field head coach, will be the head coach of both the men’s and women’s cross country teams. The women’s cross country head coaching position will be eliminated, meaning coach Drew Ludtke will be terminated. Ludtke holds one of the two coaching positions eliminated after the University announced the removal of two athletic programs and the reconstruction of the track and field and cross country coaching staffs on April 6, 2015. Assistant Vice Chancellor Jamie Ceman said Ludtke’s position was eliminated due to budget cuts. “The Drew Ludtke position was partly funded from a different area of campus,” Ceman said. “That funding source was eliminated due to budget reductions.” Ceman said Ludtke’s position was partially split with the College of Education and Human Services. “So [the position was] partly funded by the college and [he] performed work for that college,” Ceman said. “His duties were not full time for athletics.” This will leave two paid coaches for around 128 athletes in the track and field and cross country programs. Coaches were notified about the changes on April 6, the day of the announcement. Ceman said the decision for the changes was determined in late March. The changes will go into effect in 2016. Coach Ben Dorsey said having the athletes know what’s going on will be the biggest challenge. “Obviously the student-athletes are priority number one,” Dorsey said. “So getting them to understand everything that’s going on is probably going to be the hardest part.” Jeffery Pickron, a history professor at UWO, said Chancellor Andrew Leavitt inherited these cuts when he got the position. “I think he’s trying to spread those cuts out,” Pickron said. “So that everybody has to feel some of the pain and that nobody is kind of protected from it, and so you know, unfortunately, the athletic department had to take some of these cuts too.” Pickron said he doesn’t fault Director of Athletics Darryl Sims and Leavitt for making these cuts. “He’s trying to make the cuts equitable, he’s trying to spread them out and put the cuts where they make the most sense,” Pickron said. However, Pickron said there has been a development over the last several years in which decision making has been taken more and more outside of the hands of the people. “A long time ago students had some say on the way these things were carried out,” Pickron said. “Faculty had some say also. It’s become just a given now that these decisions are going to be made behind closed doors between a couple of key individuals.” Pickron said he thinks there should be more input from other people. “And I don’t mean in just this situation because I think given what has happened, what the chancellor has done, is not out of line how most decisions have become made at the university, so I don’t blame him individually,” Pickron said. Pickron said his advice to students would be to speak out. “If I were to have the ear of the students,” Pickron said. “I would say take back your power at the University so that you have a say and if I were to get the faculty to do the same, they would agree that we need to have more power in the process.”