The latest casualty is University of Nevada at Reno's Wolf Pack rifle team. The Facebook page says this decision by the athletic department gives a "whole new meaning to How the Grinch Stole Christmas." This decision is also turning heads since the rifle program has won more NCAA championships than any other sport at the university.
Here's an email, posted on Facebook, by the school's athletic director to alumni of the rifle program:
A message from the Athletic director to the Alumni.
From: Doug Knuth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2018 12:51:02 PM
To: Doug Knuth
Subject: Wolf Pack Athletics News
Dear Wolf Pack Rifle Team Alumni:
Earlier today I met with the members of the rifle team to share some tough news. After much consideration and evaluation, we made a decision regarding the alignment of our athletic department sport sponsorship with the Mountain West Conference. This decision involves adding a MWC sponsored sport – men’s cross country – while also discontinuing the sponsorship of a non-MWC sport – rifle.
We will continue to support the team through the end of their season and will provide academic support for each of the students through the duration of their degree completion plan. The university will start an ASUN sponsored club rifle team to provide an opportunity for current and future students to participate in the sport.
This is sad news and my heart hurts for each of the talented students on our current rifle team, for coach Harvey who has dedicated more than two decades of his life to the team and for all the rifle team alumni who represented the university with honor during their time on the team. Please keep coach Harvey and the team in mind at this difficult time.
In a statement by the team's manager, here's why they are shutting down operations of one of the few remaining competitive rifle teams in the country:
According to the team's Facebook page, the program has active since the 1900's and is currently comprised of mostly females.
Per an official university announcement dated December 15th, the Reno campus is scrubbing the rifle program for a cross country team. It will fund the rifle program through the end of season. Here's their statement:
The University of Nevada athletics department announced today that it will discontinue its sponsorship of rifle as an intercollegiate program following the 2018-19 season, and the Wolf Pack will add men's cross country as an official sport as part of the Mountain West Conference and NCAA beginning in the fall of 2019.
The moves aim to strengthen the Wolf Pack's alignment within the Mountain West Conference as the institution continues to grow and evolve in its seventh year in the league. The Mountain West is an elite-level conference for men's distance running as four MW schools finished among the top 18 in final rankings by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association this year.
Despite the rifle program's success, the athletic department adds the shrinking presence of Division I rifle teams is justification to nix it altogether:
The Wolf Pack also has historical success as a rifle program, but the sport has struggled to maintain its place within the NCAA as only 23 Division I programs currently sponsor the sport. Of those 23, only one (the Air Force Academy) is in the Mountain West and only three are located west of the Rocky Mountains. In total, fewer than 30 institutions across all NCAA divisions continue to sponsor the sport, and six are service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard) or military-related institutions (The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute).
"These are not easy decisions, and we've gone to great lengths to examine, identify and chart the best course of action for Nevada athletics," said athletics director Doug Knuth. "Our department is forever thankful for the service and dedication of Fred Harvey, our rifle coach of 23 years and a longtime University employee, as well as the many distinguished student-athletes who competed for our rifle program over the years."
The university had planned for a new state-of-the-art range, but plans are up in the air now with this decision. It was planned to build a 33,000 square feet facility. The Facility was described as the following:
This world class shooting facility open to the public and public safety training, shall accommodate 20 positions of Air Rifle and Air Pistol range and will be a multi-purpose space and accommodate 20 archery positions. The facility will also accommodate a range with 27 positions for small bore and tactical hand guns. Other features will include meeting and training rooms, group gathering rooms and a kitchen. Special areas features include three overlapping trap and skeet ranges with the opportunity for one set up to meet the International Shooting requirements. Also provided for the shot gun enthusiast will be a sporting clay course. The facility will be located adjacent to the current Public Safety Training Facility and will be utilized by law enforcement, accommodating 25 outdoor shooting positions and a 100 yard rifle range.
Competing in Division I rifle teams allows aspiring Olympians to build up their skillset for the big leagues. These programs also teach gun safety and responsible firearms use. With this update, there are 22 remaining NCAA Division I rifle programs left in the country. Will they be next?
We'll continue to monitor the situation here at The Resurgent.