NEW ORLEANS -- Tulane has postponed its decision on the future of the school's athletic department.
The university's board, which had been expected to announce its decision Thursday, said it will decide on June 10 if the Green Wave should remain in NCAA Division I-A, drop to a lower-budget program in Division III or drop football and remain in Division I-A in other sports.
Chairman John Koerner said he wanted the board members to have time to consider all the options. He said he also wants a majority of the members to support any decision that is made.
Tulane athletics loses about $7 million a year and spends another $7 million a year on athletic scholarships. However, Tulane president Scott Cowen said the decision involves more than money.
"It's about where we want to be as a university 10 or 20 years from now," Cowen said.
The athletics review is the final part of a school-wide assessment that began five years ago to determine how each department could best meet the university's overall plan.
Opinions have been strong -- and mixed -- about what should be done to the school's athletic program. Cowen said the school has received more than 13,000 e-mails, phone calls and letters about possible changes.
Tulane's 100-year-old athletic department is coming off one of its most successful years.
The football team finished 8-5 and beat Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. The men's tennis and women's golf teams were in NCAA regionals. The baseball team is playing in the NCAA Tournament this week. The women's basketball team went to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight year.
An effort to increase season ticket sales and financial support intensified this spring. Athletic director Rick Dickson set five-year goals of 15,000 season tickets for football, 2,500 for men's basketball and 2,000 for women's basketball.
The school has not released sales figures, but Dickson said endowments are up and football season ticket sales are up 25 percent compared to last year at this time.
The board is also studying the cost of making changes. Coaches and athletes with scholarships should not worry, Cowen said.
"If a decision is ever made that affects the student-athletes here, we would honor our promises to both them and the coaches," Cowen said.
Tulane will not make changes this year, said Cowen, who stressed that scrapping athletics altogether is out of the question.
"Whatever option we should approve, we will never get out of intercollegiate athletics," Cowen said.
The Associated Press News Service
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