Photo by: Nick Conley
During the course of an institution-wide program review, Oklahoma Christian University has decided to discontinue the men’s and women’s tennis programs.
The tennis programs will be officially cut after the end of the current semester; administration informed the teams of the decision prior to spring break. The Eagles, including senior Martin Poboril, did not see it coming.
“It was a huge surprise,” Poboril said. “We didn’t expect it because we all did well in our sport, on the court, and we did well in school. So we thought it would be fine, that we would still be here and playing.”
Disciplinary issues within the past week led to a few individual player suspensions, and so the teams will be unable to finish the rest of the season. Members of the team who are in good standing and wish to stay at Oklahoma Christian to finish their education can do so; the university will honor their scholarships for the remainder of their time. For those who desire to transfer elsewhere, the university promises to assist them in finding opportunities to do so.
Coaching staff declined to comment.
Poboril, who graduates next fall and plans to play professionally for a year in his native Czech Republic, holds nothing but gratitude for the coach and program that helped him excel as a student-athlete.
“I’m just happy that I got to meet the guys, the coach, the team, everybody,” Poboril said. “It was just a great experience, being here. It was fun, and I’m just sad it had to end like this.”
Dean of Student Life Neil Arter is a member of a group of administrators called Team One, a part of the presidential cabinet. The nine members discuss the review process with each program’s relevant faculty, weighing possible adjustments to reduce cost and improve program effectiveness. The review’s scope covers everything in two phases: non-academic and academic. Overall, the review looks to continually determine which programs best align with Oklahoma Christian’s future plans and current purpose.
“In the program review process, things get prioritized,” Arter said. “I think [the tennis cuts] is the result of the program review process more than it is any one person or two people’s decisions.”
Arter quickly pointed out, however, that the review doesn’t just bring about change by cutting out programs.
“The president has made it clear that we are going to be an institution that is continually in program review,” Arter said. “That’s just going to be a part of our DNA from now on. Now, I think it’s important to note we’re not going to be constantly making cuts — we’ll be constantly reviewing, asking ‘Okay, is this mission-central? Is this really where we need to be?’ Might we add back tennis? I think there’s several scenarios where that could happen.”
A couple factors in the decision to discontinue the tennis programs include a lack of on-campus facilities and the funds from donations necessary to build them.
Look for more on this story next Friday, April 5 in the print edition of the Talon.