Most Cut Varsity Sports Have Returned As CSC Club Sports This Season

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Zara K. Karuman ’13 performs a handstand on the uneven bars as her teammates look on during gymnastics practice on Thursday in DuPont. Due to budget cuts, the gymnastics team lost its varsity status at the end of last academic year and is now a club sport.
Jessica F. Liu

Six of the eight teams stripped of varsity status last spring have been reinstated as club sports under the Club Sports Council. Two teams did not receive CSC recognition: women’s ice hockey, for which there already exists a club sport, and wrestling, which is still trying to regain varsity status.

According to Julie Soriero, MIT’s athletic director, the six ex-varsity teams that have become new club sports are alpine skiing, golf, men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics, men’s ice hockey, and pistol.

Soriero said that, in order for DAPER to reconsider a team for varsity status, the team must raise $1 million for an endowment account that would be used to pay the team’s expenses. The team must also improve on metrics that were determined in a Health and Vitality Study conducted several years ago and were used last spring in determining which sports would be cut, said Soriero.

The shift from varsity to club status has changed some sports’ coaching arrangements, since the CSC can only provide limited funding to support a coach, much less than the salaries the coaches were making when the sport had varsity status.

As a result, some sports, including men’s gymnastics and golf, will not have coaching and will be student-run. Meanwhile, men’s ice hockey coach Mark O’Meara has decided to stick with the team despite the lack of salary.

Other changes vary from sport to sport, too.

Gymnasts can no longer practice whenever they want, said team member Garrett A. Hemann ’11. As a club sport, men’s gymnastics will have restricted time to access to their gym facility. And, DAPER is now requiring that a trained staff member be present when the gymnasts practice. “This year,” Hemann said, “we will only be able to practice about eight hours a week. Last year, we did fifteen.”

Last year, the estimated total golf budget was $30,000, according to team member Nicholas C. Swenson ’12, also last year’s New England Collegiate Conference rookie of the year. As a consequence of losing varsity status, teams like golf will have to survive on a fraction of the budget that they used to receive.

Pistol, on the other hand, will continue to have the same access to the range as before, said team member Andrew Sugaya ’11. The club will also compete in the same tournaments against the same competition as last year.

Sugaya said that pistol is currently focusing on getting money from sponsors. The club currently has 22 members, and will charge an estimated $150 membership fee to cover expenses for the fall.

William Near G of the men’s hockey team said that the men’s and women’s hockey clubs will share the ice rink. Under the current plan, both clubs will have the rink for 2 hours each day, which is about the same as last year. Near also said that the club will have access to all of the equipment and jerseys that they used last year.

The women’s ice hockey team faces a different situation than all other cut varsity teams because there already exists a women’s ice hockey club sport. Women’s club team captain Anjuli Appapillai G said that some members of the women’s varsity team expressed interest in playing for the club. Appapillai also said that the club’s roster of 40 players would be sufficient to include every member of the women’s varsity team.

Shreyes Seshasai contributed reporting to this article.