We’ve talked here at Forgotten5 about Chicago State at numerous points in the past year, largely referring to the mess they’ve made of their school and athletics department in the last two decades due to massive mismanagement.
We’ve also talked about it a lot because many of us at the site have fond past and current memories of the Western Athletic Conference, and Chicago State has been a black eye on the conference competitively since they joined seven years ago.
The Cougars struggling to compete athletically is more a symptom of their administrative mismanagement, but it’s been no more glaringly obvious than in their most prominent sports, men’s and women’s basketball.
The men’s basketball program went 13-19 in the 2013-14 season, their first in the WAC. In six seasons since then, they’ve gone 28-161. The rough part is that’s the better of their two basketball programs, as the women went 24-10 and reached the WBI during the 2010-11 season, and have gone an eye-popping 25-239 in nine seasons since.
When you have the kind of nepotism and wasteful spending that Chicago State suffers from, it’s not surprising that all of their athletics programs struggle, not just the baseball program.
When the school announced the cut, it will then not shock you that they handled it poorly.
“A month after the school fired head coach Steve Josyln in May, the team had to learn via Twitter their entire program was on the chopping block. Then three days before the Board of Trustees’ formal vote, players received emails informing them their scholarships were not renewed. The school has since reversed that decision, but the process did not sit well with players and staff.”
That’s just perplexing. Why fire the coach if you’re considering shuttering the program and then do so a month later? Why would you even consider not honoring those student-athletes’ scholarships?
The equally laughable part was the school citing the age-old trope of the baseball program costing too much money and not being competitive. The school’s most recent reported budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year showed a total expense ledger of $6.55 million, and the baseball program only accounts for $500,000 of that.
Sure the baseball team struggled, but they managed to win 36 games in the past three-plus seasons, which is more than can be said for either basketball program. There’s also the matter of the absurd amount of travel that the Cougars’ athletes have to experience, which can’t possibly have zero effect on their performance.
This whole story is made even more strange by the fact that just seven years ago, the Cougars opened a brand new, $2.5 million on-campus baseball-only stadium, which will now sit dormant or get demolished as a wasted expense if nothing changes
The real buried lede here is that in the same release, Chicago State announced that it plans to field a men’s soccer team starting this coming fall – assuming 2020 continues to follow any sort of predictable plan.
Adding men’s soccer makes some sense since there is no facility expense, but then the school should be honest and say that they’re ending the baseball program so that they can start a men’s soccer program, not so they can save any kind of money.
I don’t know that starting a men’s soccer program really makes much sense for them, and it doesn’t solve the larger financial issues that would be boosted by leaving the WAC for a more logical conference or leaving Division I altogether.
At a minimum, though, they could just make an effort to be transparent in their decision-making and start working towards untangling the mess they have going on, not making new ones.