ONEONTA _ Hartwick College's Division I men's soccer program was spared a jump down to Division III after the college Board of Trustees on Saturday opted to not follow a recommendation from the college president and the board chairman.
At a three-day meeting that wrapped up Saturday, the 26-member board tabled a proposal from Hartwick President Richard P. Miller Jr. and Board of Trustees Chairman Karl E. Mosch to transition men's soccer to Division III by the 2009 season.
The proposal also would have ended national competition and athletic scholarships for women's water polo.
"It did not come to a vote," college spokesman Francis Borrego said Sunday.
Miller, who is retiring after the end of the spring semester,
and Mosch announced last week they were putting the proposal before the Board of Trustees.
The change would save Hartwick $550,000 annually and would be more equitable to all students and student athletes at the college, Miller said last week.
All other intercollegiate sports at Hartwick compete at the Division III level.
But Miller on Sunday said he supports the board in not addressing the issue now.
"While I am disappointed with the decision, I understand it and completely support the desire of the trustees to take the time they deem necessary to consider something so important," Miller said in a statement released by the college.
Trustees have particular responsibilities for matters that are inter-generational in nature. This is such a case. The memories of alumni and community members must be considered along with the nature of experiences and facilities available to current and future students."
Borrego said the president's office, the alumni relations office and the marketing and communications office received nearly 50 e-mails and phone calls about the proposal when it became public. The calls came mainly from parents, alumni and community members, he said.
The trustees, 61 percent of whom are alumni and 23 percent of whom live in the Oneonta area, also received feedback on the proposal in the days before their winter meeting.
"They individually fielded a number of inquiries," Borrego said.
Borrego said no timetable has been given on when the board, which next meets in May, could reconsider the proposal.
Men's soccer coach Ian McIntyre said it was a very difficult week for the team but now the focus is on preparing for the 2008 season.
"From our perspective, it's business as usual," McIntyre said. "The board has decided not to look at this."
McIntyre said he wanted to thank Miller and Mosch for bringing the issue out to be discussed and the board for supporting the program. He said he did not try to lobby for continued Division I status.
"My job is to try and control and direct the things that I have control over," McIntyre said.
That includes training and recruiting as the team prepares for the 2008 season, he said.
"Our goal every year has been to win a national title," McIntyre said.
With Hartwick starting the spring semester today, McIntyre said he was meeting Sunday night with the team.
"I'll bring everybody up to speed," McIntyre said.
Hartwick won the Division I national championship in 1977 and has produced players who made their mark professionally, including the late Glenn "Mooch" Myernick, Mike Burns and most recently, Tyler Hemming and Josh Wagenaar.
Matt Lawrence, a teammate of McIntyre's in the early 1990s when they played for Hartwick, was captain of Millwall FC when it faced Manchester United in the 2004 FA Cup. He now plays for Crystal Palace in England.
In a memo sent to the Board of Trustees last week, Miller and Mosch said the college is fiscally the strongest it has been in recent memory, but more needs to be done.
The college's endowment has grown from $50 million to $75 million in the past five years, and enrollment has increased from 1,397 to 1,537 students. Hartwick has about 180 full- and part-time faculty, Miller said.
The same memo indicated the college plans to renovate the 40-year-old Binder Physical Education Center, which Miller said could cost between $15 million and $25 million.
Ultimately, the Board of Trustees approved $3.2 million in capital improvements to be completed this summer including $700,000 in upgrades for Binder.
The college has hired Clough Harbor Sports to develop a master facility plan for Binder that would develop a proposal to go beyond the Phase 1 work this summer of redoing the gymnasium's floor, bleachers and lighting, Borrego said.
A field house that would serve as a winter training facility for outdoor sports is also under consideration, Borrego said.
The make-up of a potential field house will be detailed in the master plan that will be presented to the Board of Trustees in May, he said.