The Gill brothers and others argue that Towson has used inaccurate figures to support a fundamentally flawed plan that's aimed at diverting money to the marquee sports of football and men's basketball. Mike Gill said he helped devise a proposal in early February "that so perfectly addressed Title IX and the financial stability" and could have saved the teams.

Police presence

Ever since the March 8 announcement, there have competing narratives of what happened that day.

Athletes said they gathered in a conference room, and Loeschke stood on a small stage with a plainclothes police officer beside her to make her announcement, which lasted a few minutes. In the room were several more officers, with more outside the room and the building — in all, about 10 to 12, players said.

About 15 members of the baseball team attended, as did seven or eight from the soccer team. Because of the short notice, some students couldn't get there in time.

When she finished, Loeschke told the students "Godspeed," and walked out of the room, escorted by officers. Waddell remained behind to answer questions from students, but they left in anger. The university also brought along counselors to help students deal with their emotions.

"Like we would want to talk to a counselor about that," catcher Zach Fisher said this week.

University officials deny that as many police officers were present as the players claim. Loeschke said she had one officer with her on stage and one in the hallway. She said there may have been more officers outside, though she did not see any.

Charles Herring, the university's deputy chief of police, said he assigned five officers, plus the police chief, to be on hand for the president's announcement.

The reason players and coaches were given little notice, Loeschke says, is that administrators believed the news was about to leak, and she wanted players to hear it from her first.

Now many players are looking to continue their education and collegiate career elsewhere. According to school officials, the university will honor the players' scholarships for four years if they remain at Towson. NCAA rules allow student athletes who transfer because their athletics program has been eliminated to play immediately. Some of the players said they've heard from recruiters at other schools, and only a handful are likely to remain at Towson.

Though some players hope the decision will be reversed, given the involvement of O'Malley and Franchot, they don't expect anything to undo an experience that has left them feeling bitter.

"I thought it was very unprofessional," said Hunter Bennett, a shortstop. "We were all very surprised, and that's the way it's been the whole time — you never know what to think."

Fisher, the catcher, said: "It was just embarrassing how it was handled. I couldn't really think of a worse way to do it."

Fisher was particularly unhappy that the team heard the news only hours before its first game of the season. "Who does that?" he asked. "Obviously there's no good time to do it, but that was just ridiculous."

Team members wore black tape over the word Towson on their jerseys when they played Delaware.

After Loeschke delivered the news that morning, Gottlieb met with human resources and went looking for his student players. But they'd left, so he began calling them to head to the locker room.

"I tried to make it easier," he said of his efforts to console them. "I don't know if I succeeded. I'm not sure anyone could have succeeded."

Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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Due to incomplete information provided to The Baltimore Sun, an article in Sunday's editions about Towson University omitted information about sports teams. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has 19 intercollegiate teams, like Towson and the University of Maryland, College Park.

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