Dal AC axes hoops teams
Rams’ struggles to be competitive in ACAA leads to decision
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
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.