Dal AC axes hoops teams

Rams’ strug­gles to be com­pet­i­tive in ACAA leads to de­ci­sion

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS - JOEY SMITH TRURO NEWS

BI­BLE HILL, N.S. – The chance to play the game they love at a high level while get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion close to home made Dal­housie Agri­cul­tural Col­lege a clear choice for Hai­ley and Sa­man­tha An­der­son last Septem­ber.

How­ever, the Truro sis­ters – both en­rolled in the plant science di­ploma pro­gram – are sec­ondguess­ing their de­ci­sion to at­tend the Bi­ble Hill-based school after learn­ing Dal AC has cut its men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball pro­grams for the 2019-20 sea­son.

“This seemed to be a win-win sit­u­a­tion, to play a sport we love while at­tend­ing an aca­demic pro­gram we are in­ter­ested in, all while be­ing able to stay close to our im­me­di­ate fam­ily in Truro,” Hai­ley said in an email to the Truro News. “As the bas­ket­ball pro­gram is now cut, nei­ther of us have the mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue with the plant science di­ploma pro­gram. This brings up the possibilit­y of los­ing out on money and time spent on the pro­gram, as we most likely would have at­tended dif­fer­ent schools to take dif­fer­ent pro­grams if we would not be able to play bas­ket­ball.”

The Dal AC ath­letic depart­ment made the de­ci­sion to cut the pro­grams about two weeks ago and in­formed stu­dent-ath­letes on April 24. Keltie Jones, as­sis­tant dean of stu­dents and aca­demic ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the de­ci­sion was based on both teams’ in­abil­ity to be com­pet­i­tive in the At­lantic Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion.

“We needed to take a pause and take a look and ad­just our re­cruit­ment strat­egy, so we can iden­tify whether it’s pos­si­ble to re­cruit com­pet­i­tive teams in that sport in the league,” Jones said Tues­day.

The Dal AC women’s hoops team re­turned to the ACAA last sea­son after a five-year hia­tus and went win­less in 21 games. The men’s team went 7-14 this past sea­son and qual­i­fied for the play­offs after a 4-17 sea­son in 2017-18.

“There is no deny­ing that both teams have had a rocky path through­out the sea­son but we do not feel this should mean an end to the en­tire bas­ket­ball pro­gram,” Hai­ley said in her email.

Jones said it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion that wasn’t made lightly.

“It’s been very tough,” she said. “It’s al­ways dif­fi­cult to dis­ap­point stu­dents. I am a firm be­liever that ath­let­ics is a won­der­ful part­ner for aca­demics. I think it at­tracts stu­dents, it keeps stu­dents fo­cussed, it pro­vides en­rich­ment for the en­tire cam­pus to have a strong ath­letic pro­gram. So I un­der­stand the frustratio­n and dis­ap­point­ment the stu­dents have had and that’s never easy.”

Hai­ley said she is dis­ap­pointed be­cause she and Sa­man­tha were re­cruited to play bas­ket­ball at Dal AC, only to have that op­por­tu­nity stripped away.

“The big­ger prob­lem for both of us is that in the 2018-19 year we spent over $20,000 in to­tal for tu­ition, text­books, and class up­grades to at­tend Dal AC, solely to play bas­ket­ball. We ex­tended our aca­demic ca­reer to en­sure that we could play bas­ket­ball as Dal­housie Rams for as long as we could.”

Said Jones, “I do rec­og­nize there are some stu­dents who came to us with bas­ket­ball specif­i­cally in mind, how­ever, we con­tinue to of­fer programmin­g that pre­pares them well for the work­force and for op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond our pro­gram. So I hope we’ll be able to con­tinue to work with those stu­dents. We have other ac­tiv­ity op­por­tu­ni­ties on cam­pus they can en­gage with.”

Jones said the cam­pus hasn’t ruled out a re­turn for both pro­grams in the fu­ture.

“I don’t think there’s any firm com­mit­ment ei­ther way. I think this year will be our as­sess­ment year and we will be look­ing at hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about what the op­por­tu­ni­ties are for the sport. It’s cer­tainly not a per­ma­nent de­ci­sion at this point. This is def­i­nitely a hia­tus, it’s a break, and we’re go­ing to re-ex­am­ine the pro­gram and the best way to sup­port our stu­dents.”

The ACAA will op­er­ate next sea­son with seven teams in both the men’s and women’s di­vi­sions.

“There is no deny­ing that both teams have had a rocky path through­out the sea­son but we do not feel this should mean an end to the en­tire bas­ket­ball pro­gram.” Hai­ley An­der­son

JOEY SMITH/TRURO NEWS

Dal­housie Agri­cul­tural Col­lege has pulled the plug on its men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball teams. Sis­ters Sa­man­tha, left, and Hai­ley An­der­son played their first sea­son for the Rams in 2018-19 and are dis­ap­pointed with the de­ci­sion, say­ing the rea­son they chose to at­tend Dal AC was due in large part to the op­por­tu­nity to play hoops at the col­lege level.

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